Christian Caryl is a Senior Fellow at the Legatum Institute and the Editor of Foreign Policy’s Democracy Lab website. His book Strange Rebels: 1979 and the Birth of the 21st Century was published in April 2013.
The Lady and the Peacock: The Life of Aung San Suu Kyi by Peter Popham
Where China Meets India: Burma and the New Crossroads of Asia by Thant Myint-U
Predator: The Remote-Control Air War over Iraq and Afghanistan: A Pilot’s Story by Lieutenant Colonel Matt J. Martin with Charles W. Sasser
The Weekend by Bernhard Schlink, translated from the German by Shaun Whiteside
China Watcher: Confessions of a Peking Tom by Richard Baum
China’s Megatrends: The 8 Pillars of a New Society by John Naisbitt and Doris Naisbitt
Postcards from Tomorrow Square: Reports from China by James Fallows
The Mind of Empire: China’s History and Modern Foreign Relations by Christopher A. Ford
Country Driving: A Journey Through China from Farm to Factory by Peter Hessler
Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick
The Hidden People of North Korea: Everyday Life in the Hermit Kingdom by Ralph Hassig and Kongdan Oh
The Assistant by Robert Walser, translated from the German by Susan Bernofsky
WALL·E a film by Pixar Animation Studios
The Pixar Touch: The Making of a Company by David A. Price
To Infinity and Beyond! The Story of Pixar Animation Studios by Karen Paik, based on research and interviews by Leslie Iwerks, with a foreword by John Lasseter, Steve Jobs, and Ed Catmull
The Art of Pixar Short Films by Amid Amidi, with a foreword by John Lasseter
The New Cold War: Putin’s Russia and the Threat to the West by Edward Lucas
The China Lover by Ian Buruma
Jia: A Novel of North Korea by Hyejin Kim
North of the DMZ: Essays on Daily Life in North Korea by Andrei Lankov
A Corpse in the Koryo by James Church
Hidden Moon by James Church
Shadow of the Silk Road by Colin Thubron
Ice by Vladimir Sorokin, translated from the Russian by Jamey Gambrell
Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami, translated from the Japanese by Philip Gabriel and Jay Rubin
Baghdad Burning: Girl Blog from Iraq by Riverbend, with a foreword by Ahdaf Soueif and an introduction by James Ridgeway
Baghdad Burning II: More Girl Blog from Iraq by Riverbend, with an introduction by James Ridgeway and Jean Cassella
Night Draws Near: Iraq’s People in the Shadow of America’s War by Anthony Shadid
Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart
The Successor by Ismail Kadare, translated from the French of Tedi Papavrami by David Bellos
Spring Flowers, Spring Frost translated from the French of Jusuf Vrioni by David Bellos
The Pyramid translated from the French of Jusuf Vrioni by David Bellos, in consultation with the author
The Three-Arched Bridge translated from the Albanian by John Hodgson
The Palace of Dreams translated from the French of Jusuf Vrioni by Barbara Bray
The Concert translated from the French of Jusuf Vrioni by Barbara Bray
Elegy for Kosovo translated from the Albanian by Peter Constantine
Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism by Robert A. Pape
Making Sense of Suicide Missions edited by Diego Gambetta
Suicide Bombers: Allah’s New Martyrs by Farhad Khosrokhavar,translated from the Frenchby David Macey
Perfect Soldiers: The Hijackers—Who They Were, Why They Did It by Terry McDermott
The Road to Martyrs’ Square:A Journey into the Worldof the Suicide Bomber by Anne Marie Oliver and Paul F. Steinberg
Suicide Terrorism by Ami Pedahzur
Dying to Kill: The Allure of Suicide Terror by Mia Bloom
Snow by Orhan Pamuk
Absolute Friends by John le Carré
The Little Drummer Girl by John le Carré
Stories I Stole by Wendell Steavenson
The Oath: A Surgeon Under Fire by Khassan Baiev, with Ruth and Nicholas Daniloff
Caucasus: Mountain Men and Holy Wars by Nicholas Griffin
Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan through Peace and War by Thomas de Waal
Highlanders: A Journey to the Caucasus in Quest of Memory by Yo'av Karny
Dostoevsky: The Mantle of the Prophet, 1871–1881 by Joseph Frank
Sunlight at Midnight: St. Petersburg and the Rise of Modern Russia by W. Bruce Lincoln
Russia in the Age of Peter the Great by Lindsey Hughes
Peter the Great by Lindsey Hughes
St. Petersburg: A Cultural History by Solomon Volkov,translated from the Russian by Antonina W. Bouis
Natasha’s Dance: A Cultural History of Russia by Orlando Figes
Prince of Princes: The Life of Potemkin by Simon Sebag Montefiore
The Russia Hand: A Memoir of Presidential Diplomacy by Strobe Talbott
Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam in Central Asia by Ahmed Rashid
Kazakhstan: Unfulfilled Promise by Martha Brill Olcott
One of the more clouded aspects of the Boston bombings is the tale of “Misha,” a mysterious US-based Islamist who has been accused of radicalizing Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the elder of the two alleged bombers. Today I was able to meet and interview “Misha.”
The war in Iraq has had a profound and divisive effect on America’s national culture and yet remains, paradoxically, absent from our collective experience. For the nation that waged it, it was the invisible war, a conflict that came into focus only intermittently, and even then, without the immediacy with which previous generations lived through conflicts in Vietnam and Korea.
The year 1979—when Iranian student revolutionaries stormed the US Embassy in Tehran and took dozens of American diplomats hostage, and Muslim radicals in Saudi Arabia, a staunch US ally, brazenly laid siege to the Grand Mosque in Mecca—marked the debut of a new political phenomenon known as “Islamism.” Perhaps it’s helpful to recall the events of that year as we contemplate the tragic death of US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and the storming of American diplomatic buildings in Cairo, Sanaa, Tunis, and elsewhere in the Muslim world. Once again, a growing political force from within the Islamic world—one of which Westerners were only dimly aware—has dramatically and violently demonstrated its capacity to shape global politics.
The Kim is dead. Long live the Kim. That, at least, is the story you’ll get from most of the initial takes on the death of Kim Jong Il, whose death was announced Monday around noon, Korean time. His designated political heir, his son Kim Jong Un, is now set to take the reins. That, at least, is how it’s supposed to happen according to the peculiar rules of the world’s only communist monarchy. After all, isn’t the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea a staunchly totalitarian state where nothing ever changes? Actually, no. You could have gotten away with writing that just a few years ago. But too much has happened in North Korea in the interim.
Until September 2001, North Americans had not witnessed the spectacle of mass death on their own territory for at least a century. Then, our enemies suddenly staged a devastating attack on some of our most significant places. That was a trauma—on top of the sheer loss of life—that seemed impossible to swallow. As we sent our armies out into the world, we felt that our actions were automatically legitimized by our new awareness of our vulnerability. Surely, we felt, this was self-evident; it required no further explanation. The rest of the world, however, has a hard time seeing our wounds. Today the rest of the world sees us, straightforwardly, as the country that spends more on its military than the next eighteen or so nations combined.
In his great book of reportage on the revolution in Iran, Shah of Shahs, Ryszard Kapuscinski describes that mysterious tipping point when a demonstrator loses his fear of the Shah’s security forces and refuses to listen when the once all-powerful police order him to step back. Suddenly, all involved realize that the power of the state to cow people into obedience has been broken. I was reminded of that episode by the tragic January 4 murder of Salman Taseer, governor of Pakistan’s Punjab Province, by a member of his own security detail, in a public shooting just a mile from the presidential palace in Islamabad.
WikiLeaks changes everything. We can act as if the old standards of journalism still apply to the Internet, but WikiLeaks shows why this is wishful thinking.
So now it’s official. North Korea’s ruling party has given its blessing to Kim Jong Il’s choice of a successor. The lucky man is Kim’s third and youngest son, Kim Jong Un.
Some China watchers believe that China’s dramatically rising prosperity will inevitably make the country more open and democratic. President Barack Obama’s highly-scripted trip this week provided little to support that claim. As The Washington Post noted, in contrast to 1998, when Bill Clinton, standing in the Great Hall of the People, criticized the Tiananmen Square crackdown and “traded spirited jibes with President Jiang Zemin,” Obama and Hu Jintao held a “Chinese-style news conference of read statements, stares, and no questions.” Nor did the Chinese government make any concessions on the major issues—the valuation of China’s currency, pressure on Iran, action on climate change—that the White House was hoping to see addressed.
Most of the reports about the Pakistani Army’s offensive in Waziristan have mentioned the Islamist extremists from Uzbekistan hiding out there—but they’ve often done so without really explaining what’s up. If you follow the coverage closely enough, you might learn that the Uzbek militants are tough fighters much feared by the Pakistani military, that they’re loyal auxiliaries of al-Qaeda who have displayed little inclination to negotiate, and that they’re being targeted by both the US and the government in Islamabad for these same reasons. The Uzbek Islamist leader, Tahir Yuldashev, was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Waziristan in August of this year—which says a lot about how seriously the Uzbeks are taken both by the US and the Pakistanis (who probably supplied the CIA with the information needed for the hit).
Someone really needs to write a “History of the Improvised Explosive Device”—the IED—covering the period since September 11. This seems like a much-neglected aspect of the Long War—or whatever you want to call it—that hasn’t really gotten its due. Take some of the ominous reports that have cropped up in the news over the past few weeks: