Democracy for Sale: Elections, Clientelism, and the State of Indonesia
By Edward Aspinall and Ward Berenschot

Kidnap: Inside the Ransom Business
By Anja Shortland

A Rope From the Sky: The Making and Unmaking of the World’s Newest State
By Zach Vertin

Iran Reframed: Anxieties of Power in the Islamic Republic
By Narges Bajoghli

Faces of the Disappeared: Ayotzinapa: A Chronicle of Injustice
By Tryno Maldonado
Translated by Chandler Thompson

From War to Peace in the Balkans, Middle East and Ukraine
By Daniel Serwer

How China Sees the World: Han-Centrism and the Balance of Power in International Politics
By John M. Friend and Bradley A Thayer

 

 

 

Democracy for Sale: Elections, Clientelism, and the State of Indonesia
By Edward Aspinall and Ward Berenschot

Cornell University Press, April 2019
ASIN: B07HQXF9VH
308 pps

Democracy for Sale is an on-the-ground account of Indonesian democracy, analyzing its election campaigns and behind-the-scenes machinations. Edward Aspinall and Ward Berenschot assess the informal networks and political strategies that shape access to power and privilege in the messy political environment of contemporary Indonesia.

In post-Suharto Indonesian politics, the exchange of patronage for political support is commonplace. Clientelism, argue the authors, saturates the political system, and in Democracy for Sale they reveal the everyday practices of vote buying, influence peddling, manipulating government programs, and skimming money from government projects. In doing so, Aspinall and Berenschot advance three major arguments. The first argument points toward the role of religion, kinship, and other identities in Indonesian clientelism. The second explains how and why Indonesia’s distinctive system of free-wheeling clientelism came into being. And the third argument addresses variation in the patterns and intensity of clientelism. Through these arguments and with comparative leverage from political practices in India and Argentina, Democracy for Sale provides compelling evidence of the importance of informal networks and relationships rather than formal parties and institutions in contemporary Indonesia.

REVIEWS

“A painstakingly researched examination of the way Indonesia has become a patronage democracy…. Aspinall and Berenschot’s book shows how money has weakened political parties, ensures that personalities matter more than policy, favors incumbents, and almost forces politicians to become corrupt in order to recoup the expense of running for office.” – New York Review of Books

Democracy for Sale combines rich details about the variety and variability of clientelism in Indonesia with a framework for comparing and analyzing clientelism across a variety of country contexts. This is a volume all scholars of clientelism, patronage, and money politics will want on their shelf.” – Allen Hicken, University of Michigan

Democracy for Sale promises to be a major contribution to Indonesian politics, and also a book that will be read, discussed, and cited by authors working cross-nationally.” – Tom Pepinsky, Cornell University, and author of Economic Crises and the Breakdown of Authoritarian Regimes

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Edward Aspinall is a Professor in the Department of Political and Social Change, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, Australian National University. He researches politics in Southeast Asia, especially Indonesia, with interests in democratisation, ethnicity, and clientelism, among other topics. He has authored three books on Indonesia, and co-edited ten others. He has also published about seventy journal articles and book chapters, most on aspects of Indonesian politics.

Ward Berenschot is a senior researcher at The Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies studying contemporary politics in Indonesia and India. His work focuses on the role of money and informality in election campaigns, while a second field of research concerns the character of civil society and citizenship in democratizing countries.


Kidnap: Inside the Ransom Business
By Anja Shortland

Oxford University Press, April 2019
ISBN-10:0198815476
ISBN-13:978-0198815471
249 pps
Kidnap for ransom is a lucrative but tricky business. Millions of people live, travel, and work in areas with significant kidnap risks, yet kidnaps of foreign workers, local VIPs, and tourists are surprisingly rare and the vast majority of abductions are peacefully resolved – often for remarkably low ransoms. In fact, the market for hostages is so well ordered that the crime is insurable. This is a puzzle: ransoming a hostage is the world’s most precarious trade. What would be the “right” price for your loved one – and can you avoid putting others at risk by paying it? What prevents criminals from maltreating hostages? How do you (safely) pay a ransom? And why would kidnappers release a potential future witness after receiving their money?

Kidnap: Inside the Ransom Business uncovers how a group of insurers at Lloyd’s of London have solved these thorny problems for their customers. Based on interviews with industry insiders (from both sides), as well as hostage stakeholders, it uncovers an intricate and powerful private governance system ordering transactions between the legal and the criminal economies.

REVIEWS

“Rigorous analysis which is needed not just in this field but also in cyber, art crime and all those areas where the lack of international policing leaves the private sector to find its own solutions. Meticulous research, clear conclusions of great importance to policy makers and those engaged in the prevention and mitigation of ransom attacks.” –Julian Radcliffe OBE, Founding Director of Control Risks and Chairman of the Art Loss Register

“Using jargon-free prose and impeccable analytical clarity this book portrays the business logic of the protagonists of kidnap– the kidnappers, their protectors, the hostages, and the insurers–vividly illustrating it with many real-life cases replete with unexpected twists.” – Diego Gambetta, European University Institute and Oxford University, author of Engineers of Jihad, Codes of the Underworld, and The Sicilian Mafia.

In this gripping new book, Anja Shortland analyses the ransom business from the inside. Her discovery is startling and brilliant: a self-governing marketplace of cooperation and order. Outstanding and original, Kidnap is mandatory reading for students of (anti-)social order.” – Peter T. Leeson, George Mason University.

“This outstanding book enlightens readers on the modern workings of the ransom business with its stakeholders-the kidnappers, the insurers, the governments, and the victims and their families. The author applies economic reasoning in a clear, clever, and insightful manner. In doing so she puts a perplexing problem into sharp focus. This must-read book addresses a crucial political problem in an engaging way.” – Todd Sandler, University of Texas at Dallas. Author of Terrorism: What Everyone Needs to Know

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anja Shortland is a Reader in Political Economy at King’s College London. She has worked as an academic economist at Leicester and Brunel Universities, rising to fame for her work on the economics of Somali piracy. She now studies private governance in the world’s trickiest markets: hostages, fine art, and antiquities– and how people live, trade, and invest in complex and hostile territories.


A Rope From the Sky: The Making and Unmaking of the World’s Newest State
By Zach Vertin

Pegasus Books, 2019
ISBN-13: 978-1643130514
ISBN-10: 164313051X
ASIN: B07GRGZZF6
490 pps

South Sudan’s historic independence was celebrated around the world―a triumph for global justice and an end to one of the world’s most devastating wars.  But the party would not last long; South Sudan’s freedom fighters soon plunged their new nation into chaos, shattering the promise of liberation and exposing the hubris of their foreign backers.

Chronicling extraordinary stories of hope, identity, and survival, A Rope from the Sky journeys inside an epic tale of paradise won and then lost.
Weaving together narratives local and global, this is first a story of power, promise, greed, compassion, violence, and redemption from the world’s most neglected patch of territory.  But it is also a story about the best and worst of America―both its big hearted ideals and its difficult reckoning with the limits of American power amid a changing global landscape.

The author’s firsthand accounts, from deadly war zones to the halls of Washington power, bring readers inside this unique episode in global history―an unprecedented experiment in state-building, and a cautionary tale. A Rope from the Sky is brilliant and breathtaking, a modern-day Greek tragedy that will challenge our perspectives on global politics. Includes
16 pages of color photographs.

REVIEWS

“The still-unfolding tragedy of South Sudan is too little understood and too little known, even among foreign policy experts. Zach Vertin is a rare exception. He has spent his life not just explaining how the promise of this young nation, for which so many sacrificed, was broken so badly, but helping end the bloodshed for a people who have seen far too much of it.  An important read.” – John Kerry, 68th U.S. Secretary of State, author of Every Day is Extra

“Ponders the extent of Western responsibility in the making―and breaking―of South Sudan…[and] points to a deeper question: what makes a nation?  Vertin wonders whether, like the American Civil War, South Sudan’s misery will ‘ultimately prove an awful but formative part of its becoming a viable state.” – The Economist

“Zach Vertin had a front row seat. With a journalist’s verve he takes us through the cast of characters―and forces―which put this country together and then tragically combined to dismantle it. This is a tale of leaders’ illusions and of a terrible violence consequently unleashed. And it’s a story that has not been properly told till now.” – Lord Mark Malloch-Brown KCMG PC, former United Nations Deputy Secretary-General

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Zach Vertin is an American writer, foreign policy expert, and former diplomat; he has spent the last twelve years working in international peace and conflict issues, not least in South Sudan. He currently teaches at Princeton University and is a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Doha Center. He previously served as a Senior Adviser to the U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan and Sudan South Sudan, and prior to that he was a Senior Analyst for the International Crisis Group.


Iran Reframed: Anxieties of Power in the Islamic Republic
By Narges Bajoghli

Stanford University Press, September 2019
ISBN-13: 978-1503610293
ISBN-10: 1503610292
176 pps

An inside look at what it means to be pro-regime in Iran, and the debates around the future of the Islamic Republic. More than half of Iran’s citizens were not alive at the time of the 1979 Revolution. Now entering its fifth decade in power, the Iranian regime faces the paradox of any successful revolution: how to transmit the commitments of its political project to the next generation. New media ventures supported by the Islamic Republic attempt to win the hearts and minds of younger Iranians. Yet members of this new generation—whether dissidents or fundamentalists—are increasingly skeptical of these efforts. Iran Reframed offers unprecedented access to those who wield power in Iran as they debate and define the future of the Republic.

Over ten years, Narges Bajoghli met with men in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, Ansar Hezbollah, and Basij paramilitary organizations to investigate how their media producers developed strategies to court Iranian youth. Readers come to know these men—what the regime means to them and their anxieties about the future of their revolutionary project. Contestation over how to define the regime underlies all their efforts to communicate with the public. This book offers a multilayered story about what it means to be pro-regime in the Islamic Republic, challenging everything we think we know about Iran and revolution.

REVIEWS

Iran Reframed offers marvelously original insight into one of the world’s most misunderstood countries. Narges Bajoghli reflects on the success and failure of revolutions, the meaning of ideology, youth and aging, and the ways politics seeks to address deep human longings.” – Stephen Kinzer author of All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror

Iran Reframed is incomparable. A must-read on Iran’s media landscape and paramount for anyone who wants to understand Iran as it really is. Gripping and provocative.” Negar Mottahedeh author of Whisper Tapes: Kate Millett in Iran

“In this beautifully written and extraordinarily rich book, Narges Bajoghli demonstrates a deep anxiety within the Iranian regime about how to transmit the ideology of the Revolution forty years on. With Iran Reframed, we come to understand the contradictions and frustrations behind the regime’s justifications of its past, present, and imagined future.” – Sherine F. Hamdy author of Our Bodies Belong to God: Organ Transplants, Islam, and the Struggle for Human Dignity in Egypt

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Narges Bajoghli is Assistant Professor of Middle East Studies at the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University. She has written for the New York Times Magazine, the Guardian, and the Washington Post, and has appeared as a commentator on NPR, PBS, and the BBC.


Faces of the Disappeared: Ayotzinapa: A Chronicle of Injustice
By Tryno Maldonado
Translated by Chandler Thompson

Schaffner Press, October 2018
ISBN -10: 1943156530
ISBN-13: 978-1943156535
320 pp

REVIEW

“Maldonado chips away at the government’s own investigation (of the night of September 26, 2014) bit by fabricated bit” – New York Review of Books, September 26, 2019

Faces of the Disappeared is more than an important book, it is a book that connects us to our own humanity.” —Bill Carter, author of Fools Rush In: A True Story of Love, War, and Redemption

“…leaves a deep piercing wound in every human sensibility…the author threads the individual stories into a tapestry of muted colors and disturbing patterns…this is a book that will realign your perspective…Kudos to translator Chandler Thompson…a heart-wrenching text.” —Janis Palma, Texas Master Level Court Interpreter

“By placing the stories of victims and survivors front and center, this book infuses tenderness, humanity, and heartbreak into our understanding of a unshakable act of injustice that has yet to be accounted for.” —Francisco Cantu, author of The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border

ABOUT THE AUTHOR and TRANSLATOR

Tryno Maldonado, considered by critics to be one of the most promising voices in contemporary Mexican literature, has contributed to some of the most important publications in México, and part of his work is included in national and international anthologies. He was named one of the best young Latin American writers by the Colombian magazine Gatopardo in 2006. Faces of the Disappeared is his first book to be translated into English.

Chandler Thompson was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Colombia in the 1960s, then a translator from French and Spanish to English for a wire service in Paris. He has been an interpreter for the U.S. State Department and the federal courts. He has covered Mexico as a stringer for The Christian Science Monitor and as a staff reporter for The El Paso Times.


From War to Peace in the Balkans, Middle East and Ukraine
By Daniel Serwer

Palgrave Macmillan, November 2018
ASIN: B07KYD757N
145 pps

This open access book focuses on the origins, consequences and aftermath of the 1995 and 1999 Western military interventions that led to the end of the most recent Balkan wars. Though challenging problems remain in Bosnia, Macedonia, Kosovo, and Serbia, the conflict prevention and state-building efforts thereafter were partly successful as countries of the region are on separate tracks towards European Union membership. This study highlights lessons that can be applied to the Middle East and Ukraine, where similar conflicts are likewise challenging sovereignty and territorial integrity. It is an accessible treatment of what makes war and how to make peace ideal for all readers interested in how violent international conflicts can be managed, informed by the experience of a practitioner.

REVIEWS

“Dan Serwer was there at the start of international interventions in the Balkans.  He is a clear-eyed observer of what has worked and what has not in a region still at peace but still troubled.  He has earned his observations from decades in the field, and this book is well worth reading.” – Madeleine K. Albright, Former US Secretary of State

“Daniel Serwer, who has worked in and on the Balkans for decades, has produced a fine book on the collapse of the region after Tito. Focused heavily on Bosnia and Kosovo, he catalogues the successes and failures in US and European policy in the region. Hard-hitting, his heroes have their blemishes showing; his scoundrels are far from being caricatured. For aficionados and those seeking an excellent narrative with informed comment this is an important read.” – Thomas R. Pickering, Former US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs and Ambassador to the UN and Russia

“This is a long overdue study and I can think of no-one better to write it than Dan Serwer. He was actively involved in the Balkan troubles of recent years as a policy maker and shaper of events, right from the start, gaining a widespread reputation for his judgement and wisdom. This is a cool, rational and expert lesson of what we should learn from this period and how it is relevant to the challenges we face today.”
Lord Paddy Ashdown, Former High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Daniel Serwer is Professor and Director of the Conflict Management program at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, USA.


How China Sees the World: Han-Centrism and the Balance of Power in International Politics
By John M. Friend and Bradley A Thayer

Potomac Books, November 2018
ISBN-10: 1612349838
ISBN-13: 978-1612349831
192 pps

Han-centrism, a virulent form of Chinese nationalism, asserts that the Han Chinese are superior to other peoples and have a legitimate right to advance Chinese interests at the expense of other countries. Han nationalists have called for policies that will allow China to reclaim the prosperity stolen by foreign powers during the “Century of Humiliation.” The growth of Chinese capabilities and Han-centrism suggests that the United States, its allies, and other countries in Asia will face an increasingly assertive China—one that thinks it possesses a right to dominate international politics.

John M. Friend and Bradley A. Thayer explore the roots of the growing Han nationalist group and the implications of Chinese hypernationalism for minorities within China and for international relations. The deeply rooted chauvinism and social Darwinism underlying Han-centrism, along with China’s rapid growth, threaten the current stability of international politics, making national and international competition and conflict over security more likely. Western thinkers have yet to consider the adverse implications of a hypernationalistic China, as opposed to the policies of a pragmatic China, were it to become the world’s dominant state.

REVIEWS

“Essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand the People’s Republic of China, in particular Han nationalism, a shrill, aggressive, and often racialist view of the modern world that all too often lurks behind the country’s international politics, from its inexorable advance into the East and South China Seas to how it treats the Global South.” – Frank Dikötter, Chair Professor of Humanities at the University of Hong Kong and author of Mao’s Great Famine: The History of China’s Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958–1962

“Friend and Thayer argue that China is increasingly in the grips of what they call ‘Han-centrism,’ a form of ethnic and racially based nationalism that stresses the unity and supposed superiority of Han Chinese people. Especially as its power grows, China’s external behavior may be shaped by these beliefs, with potentially troubling implications for other nations, not least the United States. This is a provocative and disturbing examination of an understudied topic.” – Aaron L. Friedberg, professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University and author of A Contest for Supremacy: China, America, and the Struggle for Mastery in Asia

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

John M. Friend is an assistant professor of political science at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University. His articles have appeared in New Political Science, Social Science and Medicine, and Health Psychology.

Bradley A. Thayer is a visiting fellow at Magdalen College, University of Oxford. He is the author of several books, including Deterring Cyber Warfare: Bolstering Strategic Stability in Cyberspace, coauthored with Brian M. Mazanec, and American Empire: A Debate, coauthored with Christopher Layne.

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