The HCSS Bookshelf

December 18th 2017 - 12:24

Don’t know what to read over the holidays? The HCSS Bookshelf has got you covered! Our analysts and assistant analysts reveal their recommendations and favourite picks for 2017, ranging from global power politics, history, economics, to cyber security, climate change and political Islam, among others.

Rob de Wijk - Director

Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides's Trap? (Graham Allison, 2017)

“Today, an irresistible rising China is on course to collide with an immovable America. The likely result of this competition was identified by the great historian Thucydides, who wrote: “It was the rise of Athens and the fear that this instilled in Sparta that made war inevitable.” But the point of Destined for War is not to predict the future but to prevent it. Escaping Thucydides’s Trap is not just a theoretical possibility. In four of the 16 cases, including three from the 20th century, imaginative statecraft averted war. Can Washington and Beijing steer their ships of state through today’s treacherous shoals? Only if they learn and apply the lessons of history.” (Access review here)

Paul Sinning - Executive Director

The Age of sustainable development (Jeffrey D. Sachs, 2015)

“A compelling, comprehensive and positive approach on the complexity of sustainable development ranging from climate-change to global justice.”

Frank Bekkers, Tim Sweijs and Michel Rademaker

New Model Army (Adam Roberts, 2010)

“A terrifying vision of a near future war - a civil war that tears the UK apart as new technologies allow the world's first truly democratic army to take on the British army and wrest control from the powers that be. Taking advances in modern communication and the new eagerness for power from the bottom upwards, Adam Roberts has produced a novel that is at once an exciting war novel and a philosophical examination of war and democracy.” (Access review here)

Stephan De Spiegeleire - Senior Analyst

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow (Yuval Harari, 2017)

“A discomforting ‘longue durée’ history of human intelligence: from the ‘spark’ that ignited homo sapiens’ brain; over today’s scientific tarnishing of our cognitive abilities (including our liberal values); to tomorrow’s dataism that may finally realize homo sapiens true potential by sublimating it in a ‘cosmic data flow’.”

The Great Leveler (Walter Scheidel, 2017)

“Another longue durée history (given the epochal changes occurring around us, people really should start reading beyond the industrial-age histories that have (dis)colored our historical comprehension) - in this case of global inequality. The book tells the history of how the “Four Horsemen” of leveling - mass-mobilization warfare, transformative revolutions, state collapse, and catastrophic plagues - have repeatedly destroyed the fortunes of the rich. HCSS has repeatedly emphasized how human violence is at a historical low, but this book shows how this decreased violence may jeopardize a more equal future – which may in turn trigger new forms of violence.”

Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations (Thomas Friedman, 2016)  

“On a more positive (and forward-looking) note, Tom Friedman also published a new book about the innumerable positive developments that are still taking place in the world around us, and that are receiving significantly less attention is the current gloom-and-doom-boom. The author explains how we can overcome the multiple stresses of an age of accelerations - if we slow down, if we dare to be late and use the time to reimagine work, politics, and community (and - we would add: defense and security).”

Tim Sweijs - Senior Strategist

Carnage and Connectivity (David Bets, 2015)

“Bets makes a strong argument for the enduring relevance of Clausewitzian thought to understand contemporary conflict.”

Connectography (Parag Khanna, 2016)

“Khanna elucidates the disconnect between political and functional geography and reflects on the challenges this generates for decision makers.”

More on War (Martin van Creveld, 2017)

“One of the world’s leading military historians offers a theoretical framework to understand 21st century conflict.”

Willem Oosterveld - Strategic Analyst

The Islamic Enlightenment (Christopher de Bellaigue, 2017)

“So as to better understand ‘the roots of Muslim rage’ and how things were once different, or perhaps, how things CAN be different (i.e. that Islam and modernity can coexist).”

From the Ruins of Empire (Pankaj Mishra, 2013)

“Similar to De Bellaigue’s book, Mishra’s contribution takes a global perspective on how non-Western societies have handled modernization since the19th century by exploring a few key thinkers which hail from China and India to the Middle East. A true eye opener for those who are mostly familiar with Plato-to-NATO narratives about Western ascendancy.”

Karlijn Jans - Strategic Analyst

Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II (Liza Mundy, 2017)

“A fairly new book telling the story of a hidden army of female cryptographers that played a pivotal role in ending the Second World War. We all know the stories of the British ladies at Bletchley Park - this book tells the lesser known (but no less relevant) story of their American counterparts.”

Women Leading the Way in Brussels (Claudia de Castro Caldeirinha & Corinna Hörst, 2017)

“In the HCSS Monthly Alert of July we looked at promising global trends that highlight the opportunities they yield in the world. One of them is emancipation and inclusiveness, which is increasingly proving to be a ‘force for good’ in societies that include all communities in their processes and policies. In this area, there is a lot of work to be done on the homefront. With the EU enduring trying times because both its rationale and purpose are being questioned, it is an opportune time to reflect not only on its current diversity, but also on the types of leadership that can contribute to creating new, more inclusive options for Europe’s future. This book highlights remarkable women leading the way toward more diverse and inclusive Europe.”

Reinier Bergema - Strategic Analyst

ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy, and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State (William McCants, 2016)

“In June 2014, the world was dumbfounded by the sudden rise of the Islamic State. The terrorist organization’s brutality surpassed that of Al-Qaeda, and contributed to a swathe of military victories. While its Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed the Caliphate, the security and intelligence community scrambled to assert the group’s origins and to explain its ability to attract international jihadists. Since then, we have been flooded with books on the organization. Yet, ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy, and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State by William McCants stands out and offers an excellent in-depth account of the rise and rationale of the Islamic State, as well as its complicated relationship with Al-Qaeda. If there is one book on the Islamic State one should read to get a good grasp of who they are and what they stand for, it is ISIS Apocalypse.”

Katarina  Kertysova - Strategic Analyst

The Invention of Russia (Arkady Ostrovsky, 2016)

“Ostrovsky’s work explores how Russia transformed from Gorbachev’s freedom in 1985 to Putin’s conflicts of today. In addition to seeking to explain the change in Russian political culture since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the book depicts the central role of the media in the country’s national narrative, and the manipulation of media and language in modern Russia. It is a superb - albeit brief - recap of Soviet political, cultural and intellectual history. Even at 400 pages, it is a quick and captivating read. The book earned its author - a Russian-born British journalist who spent 15 years reporting from Russia for the Financial Times and The Economist - the 2016 Orwell Prize. Definitely worth the read!”

The Romanovs: 1613-1918 (Simon Sebag Montefiore, 2017)

“This year, the world commemorated the centenary of the October Revolution, which ended the rule of the Russian monarchy and established the first Communist state in history. Montefiore’s story offers a compelling depiction of the Romanov era, including cruelty and power struggles associated with dynastic politics, and reveals a secret world of palace conspiracy. Understanding the story of the Romanovs is particularly relevant given mounting calls in Russia to introduce a law that would give the Royal family members a special status and stimulate their return to Russia.”

Louk Faesen - Strategic Analyst

The Darkening Web: The War for Cyberspace (Alexander Klimburg, 2017)

“The Darkening Web provides a sweeping yet nuanced overview of how we got to where we are online, with ample backstory. It is a compelling book about how competition between nation states threatens the future of the Internet. Focusing on US, China and Russia in particular, the book presents chilling accounts of how state activities - ranging from surveillance to cyberattacks and information warfare - are making cyberspace a domain of conflict with far-reaching consequences for the Internet, shaking the very foundation of our societies.”

Andreea Rujan  - Assistant Analyst

On War (Carl von Clausewitz)

“Although it was written in the 19th century, it remains one of the fundamental readings for anyone who wants to understand warfare and strategy.”

Paul Verhagen - Assistant Analyst

Cuisine and Empire: Cooking in world history  (Rachel Laudan, 2015)

“Think guns, germs & steel but focused on cooking and culinary culture. Delves into both how culinary techniques can empower nations to colonize and conquer, and how the spread of culinary culture relates to trade and religious practices.”

Wealth & Power: China’s long march to the 21st century  (John Delury & Orville Schell, 2013)

“Excellent overview of modern Chinese history through an in depth examination of 10 pivotal figures over the past 100 years. Each had a different answer to what China needed to do to return to a position of wealth and power.”

Bernhard Schneider - Assistant Analyst

Boys in Zinc (Svetlana Alexievich, 2017)

“Not for the faint-hearted! Although the book does not provide too much background information on the Soviet-Afghan War, it does give you an insight into the experience of the Soviet soldiers and their family members.”

Aleksandar Maricic  - Assistant Analyst

The Euro: How a Common Currency Threatens the Future of Europe (Joseph Stiglitz, 2017)

“As the title suggests, Stiglitz is making a case that the introduction of a common currency in countries at uneven levels of development has created a situation that is economically and politically divisive and will lead to stronger crises in the future if some adjustments are not made.”

Koen van den Dool  - Assistant Analyst

The Corrections (Jonathan Franzen, 2001)

“This book was published in 2001, won the US National Book Award, and was lauded for how it managed to translate how people felt in the aftermath of 9/11. It remains topical to this day. The Corrections revolves around the troubles of an elderly Midwestern couple and their three adult children (all of which - in pursuit of their ambitions - have moved to the coastal states), and tells the story of how these two worlds and their ideas collide around ‘one last Christmas’ in the parental home. It is a captivating illustration (and critique of) the sharp societal divisions between liberals and conservatives in the US and beyond.”

Rob de Wijk is the founder of The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS) and Professor of International Relations and Security at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs at Leiden University. He studied Contemporary History and International Relations at Groningen University, and wrote his PhD dissertation on NATO’s ‘Flexibility in Response’ strategy at the Political Science Department of Leiden University.
Paul Sinning is the Executive Director of HCSS. After graduating from the Dutch police academy in 1985, he started his career in the police force in Amsterdam. As a police officer he was responsible for several criminal investigation units. He later studied management and organization (University of Tilburg, 1995) and became a management consultant (1997) and managing partner (2002) at Twynstra Gudde, a Dutch management and consultancy firm. As managing partner he was responsible for building and developing the Security Group, specialized in organizational, business and change management within the field of security. He focused mainly on strategy, organizational development and complex collaboration issues between organizations responsible for security. He later studied public management at the University of Tilburg (2005) and has written several books about security. He has been closely involved in The Hague Security Delta from the start.
Michel Rademaker is the deputy Director of HCSS. He has fifteen years of hands-on experience as an officer in The Royal Netherlands Army, where he held various military operational and staff posts and also served a term in former Yugoslavia. He has a masters degree obtained at the University of Tilburg. After leaving the armed forces, Mr. Rademaker went on to work at the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) as a project and program manager and senior policy advisor on security topics for ten years. Eg. as NATO RTO project leader, he and his team developed serious gaming assessment methods and conducted several assessments of security technologies, and worked on numerous strategic security topics.
Erik Frinking is Strategic Advisor Security and Cyber at HCSS. He holds a Master’s degree in Political Science from Leiden University. For almost twenty years, he has been involved in addressing high-level, complex policy issues for a wide variety of European countries and international organizations. Mr. Frinking worked for more than 13 years at the Leiden branch of the RAND Corporation, where he was director of the Education, Science & Technology, and Innovation program.
Frank Bekkers is Director of the Security Program. He studied Applied Mathematics at the University of Amsterdam and spent most of his career at the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), specializing in the area of Defence, Safety & Security. At TNO, he held a range of positions, including program manager, senior research scientist, group manager and account director. From 1996-1997, he worked as program manager for Call Media and Intelligent Networks for the telecom company KPN. His current position at HCSS combines shaping HCSS’s portfolio concerning defense and security-related projects with hands-on participation in a number of key projects.
Stephan De Spiegeleire is Principal Scientist at HCSS. He has Master’s degrees from the Graduate Institute in Geneva and Columbia University in New York, as well as a C.Phil. degree in Political Science from UCLA. He worked for the RAND Corporation for nearly ten years, interrupted by stints at the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik and the WEU’s Institute for Security Studies. Mr. De Spiegeleire started out as a Soviet specialist, but has since branched out into several fields of international security and defense policy. His current work at HCSS focuses on strategic defense management, security resilience, network-centrism, capabilities-based planning, and the transformation of defense planning.
Dr. Tim Sweijs is the Director of Research at The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies. He is the initiator, creator and author of numerous studies, methodologies, and tools for horizon scanning, early warning, conflict analysis, national security risk assessment, and strategy and capability development. Tim has lectured at universities and military academies around the world. His main research interest concerns the changing character of contemporary conflict. Tim is a Senior Research Fellow at the Netherlands Defence Academy and an Affiliate at the Center for International Strategy, Technology and Policy in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Dr. Willem Theo Oosterveld is a non-resident senior fellow at HCSS. His areas of expertise include the politics of the Middle East, conflict analysis and peacebuilding, as well as law and development. He holds degrees in political science, international law, and history, having studied in Amsterdam, Leiden, Paris and New York, and was a visiting fellow at Harvard University. A former Fulbright scholar, he earned a PhD from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland.
Louk Faesen is Strategic Analyst at the Cyber Policy and Resilience Program of the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies. He mainly focuses on international peace and security in cyberspace, norms of responsible state and non-state behavior, and confidence-building measures (CBMs) in cyberspace. Louk functions as the Project Manager of the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace (GCSC), a multi-stakeholder initiative launched at the 2017 Munich Security Conference by the Foreign minister of the Netherlands that brings together leading experts from all major cyber powers and regions to help develop norm and policy initiatives related to international peace and security in cyberspace.