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CISAC Faculty 2018 Winter Break Reading List

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Getty Images | Solovyova
Getty Images | Solovyova
Photo credit: 
Getty Images | Solovyova

CISAC faculty and fellows offer their winter reading (and listening) selections:

Martha Crenshaw, senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and professor, by courtesy, of political science, recommends:

My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante


Karl Eikenberry, Oksenberg-Rohlen Fellow at the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, CISAC, CDDRL, and TEC affiliate, and director of the U.S.-Asia Security Initiative at the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, recommends:

Lost Enlightenment: Central Asia's Golden Age from the Arab Conquest to Tamerlane, by S. Frederick Starr

“This book was recommended to me by Abbas Milani before making a trip to Central Asia and the Caucasus. My respect for the civilizations of those regions grew immensely as a result of this read. Transformed my thinking.”


Rodney C. Ewing, Frank Stanton Professor in Nuclear Security and Co-Director, CISAC, recommends:

In the Shadow of Los Alamos - Selected Writings of Edith Warner, by Edith Warner

“I have the personal tradition at Christmas of rereading the Christmas letters of Edith Warner - written just down the slope from Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project. Warner captures the enchantment of New Mexico and touches on what was going on up the hill.”


Colin Kahl, co-director of the Center for International Security and Cooperation, the inaugural Steven C. Házy Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, and professor, by courtesy, in the department of political science at Stanford University recommends:

The Jungle Grows Back: America and Our Imperiled World, by Robert Ragan

“This short provocative book (essentially a long essay) discusses what America’s role should be in an increasingly chaotic world—one full of challenges that the existing norms, institutions, and alliances that compromise the liberal international order seem increasingly ill-suited to address. Whether one agrees or disagrees with Kagan’s conclusions, his analysis is insightful and worth arguing with.”


Erik Lin-Greenberg, predoctoral fellow at CISAC and a PhD candidate in political science at Columbia University, recommends:

Rise and Kill First, by Ronen Bergman

“Rise and Kill First traces the history of Israel's targeted killing program from before the establishment of the State of Israel to present day. Ronen Bergman draws from hundreds of interviews and previously unpublished documents to describe the organizations and operations responsible for assassinating Israel's adversaries in a book that reads more like an action novel than a non-fiction work.”


Michal Onderco, junior faculty fellow, CISAC, recommends:

White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America, by Joan Williams

“If you sometimes wonder about the worldviews of the people you meet under the Christmas tree, this book will give you a framework to understand them better. Williams wrote an excellent (and surprisingly easy to read) book explaining misunderstanding between classes in America; which surprisingly well resonates with research findings from outside the US. Though solutions proposed are rather simplistic, the analysis is worth reading and pondering. ”

Seeing People Off, by Jana Beňová

“A novel about a hipster couple in Bratislava, with all the trappings of the hipster life in Central Europe. Jana Benova received the 2012 European Union Prize for Literature for the book, and it is one of the rare modern Slovak fiction translated to English. Come for the (somewhat) exotic origin, stay for the story.”


Kathryn Stoner, deputy director at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University and a senior fellow at the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, as well as the deputy director of the Ford Dorsey Master's in International Policy at Stanford University, recommends:

These Truths: A History of the United States, by Jill Lepore

“This book came out a few months ago and is a really excellent overview of US history through the lens of inequality. It is really well written, and informative even for those of us who think we know US history well.”


Harold Trinkunas, deputy director and senior research scholar at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University, recommends:

Secret Wars: Covert Conflict in International Politics, by Austin Carson

“An engaging read on why states engage in covert action against each other and why even competitors may have a mutual interest in not acknowledging such activities, keeping them 'backstage' and deniable to avoid the risk of escalation and war.”


Sherry Zaks, postdoctoral fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation recommends:

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking, by Samin Nosrat

“Samin Nosrat -- a former Chez Panisse chef and Alice Waters protege -- takes her readers on an enthralling journey through the four essentials of good cuisine. This book changed the way I cook and eat. While the book itself has some (amazing!) recipes, it reads more like a memoir and history than a cookbook. Nosrat is charming, brilliant, and witty. Don't just skip it in favor of the Netflix Series. If anything, do both. Bon appetit!”

S-Town Podcast, hosted by Brian Reed

“S-Town is one of the most enrapturing examples of investigative reporting I've ever come across. No description would do it justice. It won the 2017 Peabody award and only highlights how antiquated other literary and journalism awards are for not expanding to accommodate this medium. If you want make sitting in Bay Area traffic more palatable, throw this into your rotation.”


Amy Zegart, senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute of International Studies (FSI), professor of political science (by courtesy) at Stanford University, and a contributing editor to The Atlantic, recommends:

The Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage, and Fear in the Cyber Age, by David Sanger

“David Sanger's exploration of cyber weapons is an instant classic.”

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup, by John Carreyrou

“A riveting non-fiction account of how Elizabeth Holmes turned Theranos into a $9 billion Silicon Valley fraud.”