The HCSS Summer Bookshelf 2019

June 29th 2019 - 09:00

Whether lying on the beach or taking a long flight, summer is the perfect season to crack open a new book. In our latest edition of the HCSS Bookshelf, strategic analysts and assistant analysts offer their favorite picks for the season to help get you up to speed on the latest global trends and most pressing geopolitical issues. With suggestions ranging from the newest must-reads to modern classics with newfound relevance, these books are sure to increase your knowledge of the world and keep you reading all summer long. Every few days, we will release new recommendations from our analysts.

Take the time to scroll through season's recommendations found below


Paul Sinning - Executive Director

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The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 (Christopher Clark, 2012)

This book hasn’t yet appeared on our must-read list, but it is definitely a classic example of a thrilling book on the impact of a single assassination, and a lot of misunderstandings, which ultimately caused World War 1. After reading this book, you will value the institutions of stability.


Tim Sweijs - Director of Research

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Cross Domain Deterrence: Strategy in an Era of Complexity (Erik Gartzke and Jon R. Lindsay, 2019)

With the changing character of war, the ways in which we design and sustain deterrence will need to change too. 

For more information, check out


Jan Frederik Braun - Strategic Energy Analyst

A New World: The Geopolitics of the Energy Transformation, Thijs van de Graaf, et al., (2019)









A New World: The Geopolitics of the Energy Transformation (Thijs van de Graaf, et al., 2019)

Officially the first ever, high-level, political report on the subject of the Energy Transformation. Yet, the report is written as a sweeping assessment that maps out the new geopolitical power dynamics driven by the rapid growth of renewable energy. This captivating read heralds the formal and global debate on the ‘geopolitics of renewables’.

Download here


Laura Birkman - Strategic Analyst

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Dignity: The Essential Role It Plays in Resolving Conflict (Dr. Donna Hicks, 2011)

This wise and accessible book explores the concept of dignity. Hicks contends that violations of dignity are often at the root of conflict, that its protection is a fundamental human right, and that establishing a culture of dignity is essential to organizations that want to thrive.

Hicks is a leading expert on conflict resolution (she has mediated conflicts across the globe for over two decades) and works at the Weatherhead Centre in Harvard. I was lucky to attend one of her lectures last year.


Patrick Bolder - Strategic Analyst

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The Levelling: What's Next After Globalisation (Michael O’ Sullivan, 2019)

The author describes his vision of a changing international world order. O’Sullivan contends that we will probably move to a multipolar world order, and questions if international institutions are prepared for this. The main players in this multipolar world will be the US, China and the EU. Middle sized players like the UK, Australia and Russia will struggle with their role in this new world order. He envisages a world of low growth and high debt—and calls for a “world treaty on risk.” In this new world order, we will have to rethink economic policy, liberty, warfare, interstate tensions, technology and society. ‘Levellers’ and ‘Leviathians’ will oppose each other in their approaches to these questions.


Bianca Torossian - Strategic Analyst

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Factfulness (Hans Rosling, 2018)

As Analysts at HCSS, and as humans living in uncertain times, we are acutely attuned to emerging threats and numerous seemingly insurmountable challenges, which can evoke feelings of weariness, cynicism and hopelessness.

This book, which was gifted to me by my mentor Lkol. Michel Roelen, sheds light on how the world, despite being imperfect, is in a far better state than we may believe. Hans Rosling uses data to dispel negative biases we have about global trends, and unveils ways to counter our fear-driven outlooks with a healthy dose of perspective and Factfulness.

Infographics showing how to use Factfulness to manage the barrage of negative information that we receive daily can be found here:


Bart Schermers - Assistant Analyst

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Identity (Francis Fukuyama, 2018)

Political heavyweight Francis Fukuyama ties most political conflicts together in one concept: Identity. From gay marriage in the US, to immigration in Europe, to terrorism around the world, Fukuyama argues that identity lies hidden under the surface as a strong driver of resentment. Fukuyama takes on identity politics and offers his solution to a problem without compromises.


Moos Hulsebosch - Assistant Analyst

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On Grand Strategy (John Lewis Gaddis, 2018)

What do Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon, Napoleon at the border of the Russian empire, and Lyndon B. Johnson in Vietnam all have in common? On Grand Strategy talks about wars and the necessity to align realistic ends with available means.


Jovana Perovska - Assistant Analyst

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The Bridge on the Drina (Ivo Andric, 1945)

The Bridge on the Drina is a historical novel by Ivo Andric. Andric is the 1961 Laureate for the Nobel Prize in Literature, awarded to him for “The epic force with which he has traced themes and depicted human destinies drawn from the history of his country”.

The book is named after The Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge over the river Drina in Višegrad (modern day Bosnia and Herzegovina), which serves as a silent witness to over four centuries of history. The storyline revolves around the lives, destinies, plights and relations of the local populations, painting a picture spanning from the time of the bridge's construction in the mid-16th century by the Ottomans, until its partial destruction in World War I.

An impressive work of fiction, The Bridge on the Drina provides an insight into “the strange human game which is called war” and gives us a better understanding of the contemporary history of the Balkans.


Liam van de Ven - Assistant Analyst

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My War Gone By I Miss It So (Anthony Loyd, 1999)

I had to read this book as a second-year undergraduate for one of my courses. I decided to start reading after dinner, and I did not put it down until I had finished it - which was around the time of breakfast. 

The Yugoslav War, as experienced and described by Loyd, is a learning moment in world history. This outsider-perspective memoir is telling of the paradoxical nature of ethno-religious conflict and the fragility of the institutions, both social and political, that stand at the roots of a functioning society. These meta-narratives exist in accordance with the often tragic, sometimes funny and always thrilling stories of the individuals and communities encountered by Loyd, as he roamed the besieged streets of Sarajevo and the forest encampments of Serbian warlords.


Amit Arkhipov-Goyal - Assistant Analyst



Meditations (Marcus Aurelius)

At a time of a fast changing world and societal polarisation, and individual’s search for loyalties and identity, Marcus Aurelius’ timeless book written at the time of the Roman Empire still bears relevance today. Aurelius vividly highlights the degree of control we have over the events taking place around us, the factors beyond our reach and how we can engage with these in a calm and composed manner. 


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.
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 research projects in horizon scanning, conflict analysis, international and national security risk assessment, and strategy and capability development. His main research interest concerns the changing character of modern day conflict. He has led multicenter research projects for both private and public sector organisations. Tim is also an Affiliate at the Center for International Strategy, Technology and Policy in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at Georgiatech. 
Jan Braun is a Strategic Energy Analyst at HCSS. His research focuses on international energy markets, climate policies as well as the strategic consequences, risks and opportunities for state and non-state actors in the global energy transition. Jan has studied in Maastricht, Durham and Edinburgh and holds degrees in International Relations (MA) and Political Science & Economics (PhD-magna cum laude). He completed his PhD at Osnabrück University on legislative decision-making in EU climate and energy policy in a Marie Skłodowska-Curie research network on institutional cooperation in the European Union.
Laura Birkman is a Senior Strategic Analyst at HCSS where she leads a range of projects in the field of security and defense. Before joining HCSS, she worked as Principal and Senior Consultant at Ecorys, an international research and consulting firm, where she helped establish the Security and Justice unit and focused on topics related to civil protection, crisis management, and innovation. Among other things, Laura led advisory and support services related to the building of a “Community of Users in Secure, Safe and Resilient Societies”, a European Commission initiative focused on reducing fragmentation and increasing impact of EU funded security research.
Lieutenant-Colonel Patrick Bolder started his military career after graduating from the Royal Military Academy in Breda as a meteorological officer. In the first years of his career he headed the meteorological departments at Deelen and Volkel Airbase. After graduating at Wageningen University as World Class Meteorologist he served with the staff of the 1st German/Netherlands Corps in Münster, Germany. In 2000 he became a student of the Staffcollege. After graduating in 2001 he was stationed at policy departments at the Airstaff and Defencestaff. Before and during the Netherlands EU Presidency in 2004 he joined the Presidency Taskforce and was responsible for advices to the Headline Goal Task Force and EU Military Committee. Subsequently he was the European Defence Agency - Netherlands Capabilities PoC for the Defence Staff, The Hague. From 2008 to 2010 he was Chief of Defencestaff representative in the interdepartmental Future Policy Survey team (Verkenningen). After a six month deployment in 2012 in the West Bank he was stationed at the Airstaff in Breda, responsible for the IMC-policy, Triple-helix policy and Space policy of the RNLAF. In 2014 he joined the 6 month Senior Course of NATO Defence College, Rome. After graduating he returned to the Airstaff. In 2017 a second 6-month deployment to the West Bank followed, again working for and developing the leadercourse program of the Palestinian Security Services. After returning from this he was stationed again at the Airstaff in the Strategy and Advice branch.
Bianca Torossian is a Strategic Analyst at HCSS. Her studies at The University of Sydney, Erasmus University Rotterdam, and Leiden University (The Hague), earned her a Bachelor degree in political science, political economy and sociology, and a Master degree in political science and international organization. For her Master Thesis, Bianca analyzed how the institutional legitimacy of the European Union was impacted by Brexit, and hopes later to reopen this line of research and explore how the nationalistic tendencies of states effect the social legitimacy of multilateral institutions. At HCSS, Bianca primarily focusses on security and diplomacy. A specific area of interest is the field of technology and AI in defense contexts, which ties into a HCSS research project that critically analyzes the challenges and opportunities posed by robotic and autonomous systems in the military. She contributes to a range projects commissioned by the Dutch Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defence.