Archive for the 'International' Category

The Broken Circle. A memoir of escaping Afghanistan. Enjeela Ahmadi-Miller

The Broken Circle. A memoir of escaping Afghanistan. Enjeela Ahmadi-Miller. 2019. ISBN 139781503903784.  The author was a small child when part of her wealthy family left Kabul for Delhi. She stayed behind with her brothers, two sisters and her father. She lived through the Russian invasion and war. She and her siblings fled Kabul with a guide and travelled ( walked, trekked) for two years to get through to Pakistan (over the Hindu Kush)  where they were reunited with their father.  Passportless they travelled to Bangladesh, Nepal and eventually India running the gauntlet of border patrols and security services. Eventually, they reunited with the whole family in New Delhi.  From there they would travel to America.  The story is told simply through the eyes of a child, but it is a dramatic portrayal of the life of refugees and the grinding poverty of the hill tribes in Afghanistan.  Well worth the read.


Here We Are. American Dreams, American Nightmares. AArti Namdev ShaShahani

Here We Are. American Dreams, American Nightmares. AArti Namdev ShaShahani. 2019. ISBN 9781250204752.  An Indian family finds it way eventually to America.  They start to build a better life following the American dream getting green cards and working to citizenship. Through a serious of misadventure and  poor legal advice the father gets on the wrong side of immigration and lives in a perpetual state of fear of deportation. His daughter  (a NYTimes journalist) details the trials and tribulations of the many years  and what they went through. Its also a story being played out throughout  America still.  Very human story that will bring the people involved to the fore.

Iran: Make Love Not War. Mary Jane Walker.

Iran: Make Love Not War. Mary Jane Walker. 2019 ISBN 978047349160.  A concise and breezy trip through modern Iran.  The author is quite the adventure hound in the nothing ventured , nothing gained style.  She traveled mostly alone and met many helpful Iranians along the way. She has an eye for art and architecture and seems able to talk to pretty well anyone.  Her colour photos are worth the book. After reading this travelogue you will come away with a sense as to what the average Iranian thinks. As well, she finds that the locals are quite unlike and detached from the Muslim leaders, leaders who appear paranoid at being overthrown like they did to the Shah.  Locals are just folks getting by and apart from fearing for their future, you would feel quite at home with them.  This is also a short history lessons on Persia and Persian kings. The descriptions of the cities and architecture is also well done.  Your heart goes out to the mismanagement of water and top level corruption which imposes hardship on the locals.

The New Confessions of an Economic Hitman. John Perkins.

The New Confessions of an Economic Hitman. John Perkins.  2016. ISBN 9781626566750.  If you don’t read about the international crooks you will not recognize them at home.  The author worked many years as an EHM. He was trained to go into third world or struggling countries to inflate growth projections from large infrastructure projects  ( Saudi Arabia, Ecuador, Panama etc). These projects would then be funded by the World Bank and others and the country would be loaded up with debt.  . The money lent would go to US firms to do the work (of course some $  would find its way into select in country pockets).  The US engineering/construction company owners would pocket huge profits.

The projects would under deliver and the country would not be able to pay even the interest on these huge loans.  The US would pressure the govts to take on more debt, vote certain ways at the UN , buy more US products and so on.. The peoples’ lives would get worse not better. ( shades of the banana king and 1MDB )  If the govts did not play ball with US plans, regime change, assassination etc. would happen (Chile, Honduras, Ecuador, Panama.  Wrap a large disinformation campaign about this all.   You could not make this stuff up.  The author points out now that the same tricks are going on in US states with big projects and perhaps even in Canada.

A potent read, albeit the author is not concise enough for me. The story speaks very loud about the dangers of these large US companies, the military industrial complex and US policy.  Evidently China is following the same US playbook.

Finite and Infinite Games. A vision of life as play and possibility. James P. Carse.

Finite and Infinite Games. A vision of life as play and possibility. James P. Carse. 2012. ISBN 9780029059807.   A seminal book on the subject, (Game theory)  which has became quite topical in the technology world with speakers such as Simon Sinek.  This is a deceptively thin book that will warrant several rereads to tease out the ideas Carse puts forward.  I would very often find myself lost in the ideas and then the author would hit me with a particularly resonating section. This would be sufficient to push me into the next few sections.  I found the first few sections challenging and then it caught in the dialectal discussion. Like the Phenomena of Man by DeCardin, this can be a mind changing book, full of life lessons.

Gabriel Allon Series . Daniel Silva.

Gabriel Allon Series . Daniel Silva.  Eighteen books so far in this series about Gabriel Allon, spy and art restorer.  Silva is very thorough in his research and thus paints a much more involved picture of the spy game than others you may have read. Allon is an Israeli spy, based on Europe and eventually in Israel as he climbs the ranks of their secret service.  Close ties to the Middle Eastern, European, English and American spy ranks allow the stories to flow across the globe as Allon pursues those who would do damage to Israel.  The research allows a different point of view to come through, which is often lacking in other Western writings.  Russia ends up as the ultimate enemy as Putin politics of aggression become evident.  But Allon has enemies in many camps through these books.  The writing is crisp, has a good pace, excellent character development and is often very hard to put down. Each book is great for a four plus hour plane ride.

Damned Nations. Greed, guns, armies & aid. Samantha Nutt. MD.

Samantha Nutt reads from her chosen book for C...

Damned Nations. Greed, guns, armies & aid. Samantha Nutt. MD.  2011. ISBN 9780771051470. One of the most concise and clear writing I have read on the sheet lunacy of many aid programs in the world.  The author has worked in most of the war torn places you can think of.  Of course we expected the celebrity programs to be a waste, but the author details the wasteful business of large aid groups, and how much of the funding is not dispersed . She also points out how having the military associated with aid only brings about even more waste, bureaucracy, disconnect with the locals and increase the risk to NGOs. You clearly find out the disconnect between what First world governments say they want to do and what the countries really need.  She holds out hope for those organizations which are there for the long term and work at the grassroots to improve the citizens lot.  This is another voice explaining the benefits of educating girls and the impact on village life. You will be aghast at the rapaciousness of many of African leaders as well as the dangers posed by child soldiers who become detached from reality.  I guarantee you will not want to put this book down.  Canada does not come out that well in this boo, from our govt to our large investment funds ( Teachers and Union funds)  who invest in large arms dealers.

Thieves of State. Why corruption threatens global security. Sarah Chayes.

Seal of the C.I.A. - Central Intelligence Agen...

Thieves of State. Why corruption threatens global security. Sarah Chayes.2015. ISBN 9780393246537.  This is quite the book. It was suggested to me by David Mouton and I am glad he did.  The author details how various corrupt governments today ( Afghanistan, Egypt, Tunisia, Nigeria for eg)  have been seized by kleptocracies so that the national revenue flows into the hands of the ruling few. She also shows how the individual living in these places gets caught between the religious right and the corrupt administration to the point that uprising seems the only option. Especially galling is that the Western powers and NGOs seem to always align with the corrupt administration, so the West is seen as part of the problem.   She makes a very good case ( and worked in several of these countries on this) , the the West should be very concerned about dealing with corrupt administration/systems that are in all intents criminal in nature..  That is if thee West is interested in helping these populations have any alternatives to violence.  She has some pretty good dirt on the CIA and US State department as well.  Of course she also shows how the control of the US govt by Wall Street interest was not that short of being criminal.

How Asia Works. Success and failure in the world’s most dynamic region. Joe Studwell.

English: Member nations of the Asia-Pacific Ec...

How Asia Works. Success and failure in the world’s most dynamic region. Joe Studwell.2013. ISBN 9780802193476.  An all encompassing, insightful book.  The structure is simple . Compare the NE Asian successes ( Korea, Japan, Taiwan, China ),  to the SE Asian disasters ( Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, India) ignore unique nation states like Hong Kong, Singapore,  then extract behaviors that seem to lead to economic powerhouse countries.   Then discuss each country a little more deeply to unpack their individual  successes, failures and on-going weaknesses.  Along the way  blow holes in the prevailing World Bank and IDB ” economic wisdom” .  The  author has little regard for most economists and after reading the book I am inclined to agree.  He does indicate that economic history is a useful pursuit in this analysis.   I saw many of his observations “operating” in our recent Asia /Africa trip.  Even though this is well before the Chinese stock market meltdown, much of his analysis indicated the inevitability of it.  The text is easy to read, well organized and will consume you.  No wonder Bill gates endorsed it.

The Sustainable Organization. A paradigm for a fairer society. Miguel Reynolds Brandao & Nadia Morais

The Sustainable Organization. A paradigm for a fairer society. Miguel Reynolds Brandao & Nadia Morais. 2015.  A very thought provoking rethink on how organizations could change to a more sustainable model.  I have reviewed the background research for the 99% movement , Alex Ohanians story how  youth can create the future and Bruce Thorntons belief in the EUs slow inevitable decline. all here in this blog.

Brandao has taken a more analytic view of  organizational structure, reward systems and their impact on the world order.  He details the world wide executive compensation inequity ( absent somehow for Sweden and Norway) . He posits a new index  the SORG , that powerfully communicates the impact of an organization on the world/community which is well beyond P&L statements and GDP.   This could be like catnip to Millenials.

This is a useful viewpoint, one that is worthwhile for academics to pursue further. Plus I suggest you read it to stimulate your thoughts and responses.  I can see this as worthy of a TED talk, and also at Davos.  The book may be one that Bill Gates would recommend as it fits with his recent recommendations.