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Red Carpet: Hollywood, China, and the Global Battle for Cultural Supremacy

By Erich Schwartzel

Penguin Press, May 2022

380 pages

. . . In recent decades, as China has grown into a giant of the international economy, it has become a crucial source of revenue for the American film industry. Hollywood studios are now bending over backward to make movies that will appeal to China’s citizens—and gain approval from severe Communist Party censors. At the same time. . .China has built its own film industry into an essential arm of its plan to export its national agenda to the rest of the world. The competition between these two movie businesses is. . . a clash that will determine whether democratic or authoritarian values will be broadcast . . . around the world.


“Schwartzel tells the story of how Chinese investments in Hollywood and the Communist Party’s role in deciding what Chinese audiences could see swiftly inverted the power relationship between China and the United States in this immensely influential industry. . . . —Foreign Affairs

“Red Carpet is the story of the nexus that formed when Hollywood realized it needed China’s cash, and China realized it could first manipulate—and then appropriate—Hollywood’s special gifts for enchantment, coercion, and lifestyle control . . . The two stories, the humbling of Hollywood and the swelling of Chinese soft power, twist and combine across Schwartzel’s masterfully organized book. . . .—The New York Times Book Review

“Fascinating and disturbing. . . . Avid viewers will be surprised by this exposé of the seedy partnership between Hollywood and the Chinese government.” —Kirkus (starred review)

“Schwartzel makes an eye-opening debut with this accomplished account of how soft power—namely, entertainment—helped China become one of the most influential players on the global stage. . . . An illuminating look at what China learned from Hollywood, and why Hollywood needs China to survive. It’s a fascinating take on the crossroads of film and global politics.” —Publishers Weekly


“Erich Schwartzel sheds fresh light and understanding on the evolution of Hollywood’s fraught relationship with the Chinese Communist Party as well as the nature of this century’s high stakes competition between totalitarianism and democracy. The story in Red Carpet demonstrates how, in art and in life, the Party coopts and coerces leaders across the free world to support its violent self-conception as a one-party nation with no room for plurality except on its own rigid terms.” —Lt. General H.R. McMaster (Ret.), former National Security Advisor and author of Battlegrounds and Dereliction of Duty

“. . . Erich Schwartzel demonstrates the extent of our cultural thrall to China. His depiction of the craven characters, American and Chinese, who have enabled this situation represents a significant feat of investigative journalism. His narrative is about not merely the movie business, but the new world order.” —Andrew Solomon, author of Far from the Tree and The Noonday Demon


Erich Schwartzel has reported on the film industry for The Wall Street Journal since 2013. Previously, he covered energy and the environment for The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, where his work won the Scripps Howard Award for Environmental Reporting.


Yemen in the Shadow of Transition: Pursuing Justice Amid War

By Stacey Philbrick Yadav

Oxford University Press, January 2023

288 pages

Responding to a diplomatic stalemate and a catastrophic humanitarian crisis, Yemen’s civil actors work every day to build peace in fragmented local communities across the country. This book shows how their efforts relate to longstanding justice demands in Yemeni society, and details three decades of alternating elite indifference toward, or strategic engagement with, questions of justice. Exploring the transformative impact of the 2011 uprising and Yemenis’ substantive wrestling with questions of justice in the years that followed, leading Yemen scholar Stacey Philbrick Yadav shows how the transitional process was ultimately overtaken by war, and explains why features of the transitional framework nevertheless remain a central reference point for civil actors engaged in peacebuilding today. In the absence of a negotiated settlement, everyday peacebuilding has become a new site for justice work, as an arena in which civil actors enjoy agency and social recognition. Drawing on seventeen years of field research and interviews with civil actors, Yadav positions Yemen’s non-combatants not-or not only-as victims of conflict, but as political agents imagining and enacting the justice they wish to see.


“[Yadav] unearths the vibrant debates that have taken place beneath the drama of high politics, carnage, and destruction, offering remarkably perceptive critiques of international peace-building and humanitarian aid efforts, which have neglected local priorities and failed to address questions of justice.” — Foreign Affairs

“Remarkable. The only book of its kind on Yemen and its conflict, from one of the world’s leading experts. Ambitious, original and reflective, this is a significant advance over existing works on the country and an innovative approach to justice issues in war.” — Jillian Schwedler, Professor of Political Science, CUNY, and author of Protesting Jordan: Geographies and Power of Dissent

“Undoubtedly an original contribution to the literature, deepening and extending knowledge not only on Yemen but on peacebuilding more generally. The author’s primary research is a rare commodity. This is the first text of its kind, and very impressive.”– Vincent Durac, Associate Professor of Politics and International Relations, University College Dublin, and author of Politics and Governance in the Middle East

“An ambitious exploration of the intricacies of civil and political demands for justice in contemporary Yemen. The book is theoretically innovative, profoundly informative and paves ways for multiple comparisons. No doubt its approach, which focuses on a wide variety of local initiatives, will inspire well beyond specialists of the Arabian Peninsula.” — Laurent Bonnefoy, Researcher in International Studies, Sciences Po, and author of Yemen and the World


Stacey Philbrick Yadav is Associate Professor of International Relations at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York, and the author of Islamists and the State. Since 2019, she has been working with Yemeni colleagues on internationally sponsored projects for everyday peacebuilding in Yemen.



In The Nation’s Service: The Life and Times Of George P. Shultz

By Philip Taubman

Stanford University Press, January 2023

500 pages

Deftly solving critical but intractable national and global problems was the leitmotif of George Pratt Shultz’s life. No one at the highest levels of the United States government did it better or with greater consequence in the last half of the 20th century, often against withering resistance. His quiet, effective leadership altered the arc of history. While political, social, and cultural dynamics have changed profoundly since Shultz served at the commanding heights of American power in the 1970s and 1980s, his legacy and the lessons of his career have even greater meaning now that the Shultz brand of conservatism has been almost erased in the modern Republican Party.

This book, from longtime New York Times Washington reporter Philip Taubman, restores the modest Shultz to his central place in American history. Taubman reveals Shultz’s gift for forging relationships with people and then harnessing the rapport to address national and international challenges, under his motto “trust is the coin of the realm”―as well as his difficulty standing up for his principles, motivated by a powerful sense of loyalty that often trapped him in inaction. Based on exclusive access to Shultz’s personal papers, housed in a sealed archive at the Hoover Institution, In the Nation’s Service offers a remarkable insider account of the behind-the-scenes struggles of the statesman who played a pivotal role in unwinding the Cold War.


“This is a masterpiece. Philip Taubman, one of the great reporters and editors from The New York Times, has dug forever and found the real, authentic George Shultz, one of the true peacemakers of the 20th century. Essentially positive but not avoiding some well-documented criticisms, this biography reminds me of David McCullough’s classic biographies of Presidents John Adams and Harry Truman―defining and sure-footed in every paragraph.”―Bob Woodward, #1 bestselling author of Peril and Shadow: Five Presidents and the Legacy of Watergate

“The nuanced diplomacy of George Shultz at the end of the Cold War was a major reason that 45-year conflict ended with a whimper rather than the nuclear bang we had all feared. In his biography about Shultz, Philip Taubman masterfully explains the many keys to Shultz’s success, including his giant intellect and understated ability to build personal relationships with his interlocutors in the Soviet Union. In the Nation’s Service is a must read for those interested in the life and times of one of our nation’s foremost secretaries of state.”―James A. Baker, III, 61st U.S. Secretary of State

“Philip Taubman has written an outstanding book about the extraordinary life and public service of Secretary Shultz. As Taubman describes in these pages, Shultz possessed the rare ability to build consensus among people with diverse and sometimes deeply opposing views, exhibiting an agile diplomacy that allowed him to aid in the peaceful end of the Cold War. Taubman’s account deftly captures the character of this American icon, the halls of power in which he served the nation, and the consequential one hundred years in which he lived.”―Condoleezza Rice, 66th US Secretary of State, Tad and Dianne Taube Director, Hoover Institution


Philip Taubman is a lecturer at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation. Before joining CISAC, Mr. Taubman worked at the New York Times as a reporter and editor for nearly 30 years, specializing in national security issues, including intelligence and defense policies and operations. He is author of The Partnership: Five Cold Warriors and Their Quest to Ban the Bomb (2012) and Secret Empire: Eisenhower, the CIA, and the Hidden Story of America’s Space Espionage (2003).


India is Broken: A People Betrayed, Independence to Today

By Ashoka Mody

Stanford University Press, January 2023

520 pages

A provocative new account of how India moved relentlessly from its hope-filled founding in 1947 to the dramatic economic and democratic breakdowns of today.

When Indian leaders first took control of their government in 1947, they proclaimed the ideals of national unity and secular democracy. Through the first half century of nation-building, leaders could point to uneven but measurable progress on key goals, and after the mid-1980s, dire poverty declined for a few decades, inspiring declarations of victory. But today, a vast majority of Indians live in a state of underemployment and are one crisis away from despair. Public goods―health, education, cities, air and water, and the judiciary―are in woeful condition. And good jobs will remain scarce as long as that is the case. The lack of jobs will further undermine democracy, which will further undermine job creation. India is Broken provides the most persuasive account available of this economic catch-22.

. . . Mody contends that successive post-independence leaders, starting with its first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, failed to confront India’s true economic problems, seeking easy solutions instead. As a popular frustration grew, and corruption in politics became pervasive, India’s economic growth relied increasingly on unregulated finance and environmentally destructive construction. The rise of a violent Hindutva has buried all prior norms in civic life and public accountability.

Combining statistical data with creative media, such as literature and cinema, to create strong, accessible, people-driven narratives, this book is a meditation on the interplay between democracy and economic progress, with lessons extending far beyond India. Mody proposes a path forward that is fraught with its own peril, but which nevertheless offers something resembling hope


“A compellingly readable history of Indian politics and economics since independence: Nehru’s early mistakes―especially his tragic lack of attention to health, education, and jobs―multiplied into performative and destructive politics in the hands of his heirs. This is a profound account of how any democracy, even the world’s largest, can be destroyed from within. Great storytelling. Hard to put down!”―Angus Deaton, Nobel Laureate in Economics

India is Broken is a masterful, wonderfully readable but searing indictment of the failures of Indian economic policy since Independence. Brilliantly weaving into his account a history of the key political events of the era, Mody chronicles how a dismal catalogue of flawed economic strategies and a dysfunctional political system have led to a country that is unable to produce enough jobs, where religious divisions keep growing, and inequality is relentlessly rising. An indispensable book for anyone trying to understand this complicated country.”―Liaquat Ahamed, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Lords of Finance

“A magisterial political and economic history of post-colonial India, written with extraordinary eloquence and passion. Mody argues that successive leaders have failed the country’s hundreds of millions of poor and borderline poor on its path from nascent democracy to mature authoritarian state. All too often the IMF, the World Bank, and other donors were willing to sign off on economic policies that had little chance of success. India is Broken will be a touchstone in policy debates for years to come.”―Kenneth Rogoff, Harvard University, and coauthor of This Time is Different


Ashoka Mody is an economic historian at Princeton’s School of Public and International Affairs. Formerly, he worked at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. He is the author of EuroTragedy: A Drama in Nine Acts (2018), and his writing appears often in outlets such as Financial Times, Project Syndicate, and Bloomberg View.



The Return of the Taliban: Afghanistan After the Americans Left

By Hassan Abbas

Yale University Press, May 2023

286 pages


Since the fall of Kabul in 2021, the Taliban have effective control of Afghanistan—a scenario few Western commentators anticipated. But after a twenty-year-long bitter war against the Republic of Afghanistan, reestablishing control is a complex procedure. What is the Taliban’s strategy now that they’ve returned to power?


In this groundbreaking new account, Hassan Abbas examines the resurgent Taliban as ruptures between moderates and the hardliners in power continue to widen. The group is now facing debilitating threats—from humanitarian crises to the Islamic State in Khorasan—but also engaging on the world stage, particularly with China and central Asian states. Making considered use of sources and contacts in the region, and offering profiles of major Taliban leaders, Return of the Taliban is the essential account of the movement as it develops and consolidates its grasp on Afghanistan.


“The questions [Abbas] explores are difficult and important. . . . [He] provides a well-informed survey of the second Islamic Emirate.”—Steve Coll, New York Review of Books

“This highly readable book by Hassan Abbas is rich in revealing pivotal decisions leading to the Taliban’s seizure of power and in describing how as rulers the Taliban struggle to reconcile pressures for transition with their rigid ideology. The book furnishes valuable insight into who the Taliban are and how best the West can engage them.”—Marvin Weinbaum, author of Pakistan and Afghanistan

“A nuanced, fast-paced, and vivid tale, told by a learned, wise, and compassionate scholar uniquely positioned to understand the dynamics of the Taliban’s continuing evolution. Ultimately, Abbas challenges the US government to find ways to engage with the Taliban, for the good of the Afghan people, despite the misogyny, bigotry, and rigidity of their leaders.”—Jessica Stern, author of Terror in the Name of God


Hassan Abbas is Distinguished Professor of International Relations at the Near East South Asia Strategic Studies Center, National Defense University, in Washington, DC. He is the author of numerous books, including The Taliban Revival and The Prophet’s Heir.



The Moralist International: Russia In The Global Culture Wars

By Kristina Stoeckl and Dmitry Uzlaner

Fordham University Press, December 2022

208 pages

The Moralist International analyzes the role of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian state in the global culture wars over gender and reproductive rights and religious freedom. It shows how the Russian Orthodox Church in the past thirty years first acquired knowledge about the dynamics, issues, and strategies of Right- Wing Christian groups; how the Moscow Patriarchate has shaped its traditionalist agenda accordingly; and how the close alliance between church and state has turned Russia into a norm entrepreneur for international moral conservativism. Including detailed case studies of the World Congress of Families, anti-abortion activism, and the global homeschooling movement, the book identifies the key factors, causes, and actors of this process. Kristina Stoeckl and Dmitry Uzlaner then develop the concept of conservative aggiornamento to describe Russian traditionalism as the result of conservative religious modernization and the globalization of Christian social conservatism.

The Moralist International continues a line of research on the globalization of the culture wars that challenges the widespread perception that it is only progressive actors who use the international human rights regime to achieve their goals by demonstrating that conservative actors do the same. The book offers a new, original perspective that firmly embeds the conservative turn of post-Soviet Russia in the transnational dynamics of the global culture wars.

The Moralist International is available from the publisher on an open-access basis.


In their short but in-depth book, Stoeckl and Uzlaner offer an interpretation of Russia’s powerful shift toward moral conservatism and “traditional values” under President Vladimir Putin. . . [T]hey demonstrate the importance of transnational influences in Russia’s embrace of conservatism and explore Russia’s place in the global culture wars. ― Foreign Affairs

The Moralist International tells the unique story of Russia’s role in today’s global culture wars. . . Kristina Stoeckl and Dmitry Uzlaner rebuild the nuanced history of transnational links between Americans, Russians, and Europeans and their ideological underpinnings. This book sheds light on the driving role of the Russian Orthodox Church in leading the conservative struggle both at home and abroad. It is a must-read to understand one of the bedrocks of Russia’s war in Ukraine.Marlene Laruelle, Professor, Director of the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at the George Washington University.

This is the best study I know of the role of Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church in the global culture wars. Now that Russian religious culture has become an instrumental weapon in a catastrophic war of aggression against Ukraine, it is of utmost importance that all publics understand the . . . dynamics of The Moralist International.Jose Casanova, Emeritus Georgetown University


Kristina Stoeckl is Professor of Sociology at the University of Innsbruck, Austria. The most recent of her books are The Russian Orthodox Church and Human Rights (Routledge, 2014) and Russian Orthodoxy and Secularism (Brill, 2020).

Dmitry Uzlaner is research fellow at the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences, Russia. The most recent of his books are The Postsecular Turn: How to Think about Religion in the Twenty-First Century (in Russian, Izdatel’stvo instituta gaiidara, 2020), The End of Religion? A History of the Theory of Secularization (in Russian, Higher School of Economics Press, 2019), and Contemporary Russian Conservatism: Problems, Paradoxes, and Perspectives (Brill, 2019, co-edited with Mikhail Suslov).

Aristotle Papanikolaou is Professor of Theology, the Archbishop Demetrios Chair of Orthodox Theology and Culture, and the Co-Director of the Orthodox Christian Studies Center at Fordham University. He is also Senior Fellow at the Emory University Center for the Study of Law and Religion. He is the author of Being with God: Trinity, Apophaticism, and Divine–Human Communion and The Mystical as Political: Democracy and Non-Radical Orthodoxy.

Ashley M. Purpura is an associate professor of religious studies in the School of Interdisciplinary Studies at Purdue University. She publishes on gender and Orthodoxy, and is the author of God, Hierarchy, and Power: Orthodox Theologies of Authority from Byzantium (2018).

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