Post-Western World’s Books of the Year (2014)



My favorite books published in 2014, covering US hegemony and the future of global order, Brazilian foreign policy, Timor-Leste, the history of sovereignty, and a novel about life in emerging Asia. To see the complete list of this year's book reviews, click here.

“Theory of Unipolar Politics” by Nuno P. Monteiro

In his new book, Nuno Monteiro addresses three questions about unipolarity. First, is it durable? Second, is it peaceful? And third, what is the best grand strategy that a unipolar power such as the United States can implement? Monteiro expects the current U.S. preponderance in conventional military power to remain largely unchanged for "as far as the eye can see" even if the Untied States loses its status as the world's largest economy.

"18 Dias" (18 Days) by Matias Spektor (in Portuguese)

Matias Spektor looks back at Brazil's most dramatic power transition since democratization three decades ago and uses the unique moment after Lula's historic victory in 2002 as a starting point for an excellent analysis of presidential diplomacy and Brazil's place in the world.

“Goodbye Hegemony! Power and Influence in the Global System” by Simon Reich and Richard Ned Lebow

Reich and Lebow argue that US-hegemony ended decades ago, and today it is nothing more than a "fiction propagated to support a large defense establishment, justify American claims to world leadership, and buttress the self-esteem of voters." Rejecting claims of US leadership after the end of the Cold War, the authors argue that while the United States has indeed lots of hard power, it is no longer capable of converting it in actual influence over others.

“The End of American World Order” by Amitav Acharya

The unipolar moment, Amitav Acharya argues in The End of American World Order, his latest book, is over. Yet what comes next? Rather than a multipolar, bipolar or G-zero world (as Charles Kupchan argued in No one’s world), the emerging world order is likely to be neither bipolar nor multipolar. Instead, we are heading towards a "multiplex world order." The major difference between multipolarity and multiplex order, according to the author, is that the latter is marked by unprecedented levels of interdependence that is far more complex than those in early 20th century Europe.

“Beloved Land: Stories, Struggles, And Secrets From Timor-Leste” by Gordon Peake

Peake's account is personal and his relaxed and self-deprecating style make Beloved Land and enjoyable read for those interested in Timor-Leste. The book provides a vivid glimpse into the soul of one of the world's youngest nations and the challenges it faces.

"Sovereignty and the Responsibility to Protect: A New History" by Luke Glanville

Questioning the traditional assertion that sovereignty used to be unconditional, he argues that sovereignty entailed responsibility since it was first articulated in the sixteenth century, and that the notion of sovereignty as a “license to kill” is both recent and, most importantly, was never uncontested. The author's analysis thus makes an important contribution to the debate, shedding light on a historical perspective that is often overlooked in the day-to-day debates about the responsibility to protect.

“How To Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia” by Mohsin Hamid

What makes this book worth reading that it is not only about the "rise of the rest" and the unsettling drive for growth and modernization, but (perhaps much more so) about love, ambition and mortality - and all that in a surprisingly uncomplicated fashion - likely to make most readers stay up late to finish How To Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia in one sitting.

Read also:

Post-Western World’s Books of the Year (2013)

Book review: “A Little History of the World” by E.H. Gombrich

Book review: “The Eastern Origins of Western Civilisation” by John M. Hobson

Available For Pre-Order: “The BRICS and the Future of Global Order” (Lexington Books)

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