Book Club

Twelve times per year, members of the non-fiction book club meet to discuss one of twelve annual book selections. During the interim months, a slightly shorter book will be chosen. All selections provide insights into current and historical international issues. Meetings are typically held from 5:00-6:30 pm on the first Tuesday of the month.

We are always excited to welcome new participants to the Book Club (it is free to join)! For more information, or to be included on the CIR Book Club email list, reach out to Virginia McCallum, CIR’s Book Club Coordinator, at If you have suggestions for future book selections, let Virginia know. We’re always interested in recommendations!

The CIR Book Club meets 12 times per year. We read only non-fiction concerned with foreign affairs, present and historical context for current events. We read a slightly shorter book every other month.

2021 Schedule of Books

February 2021:
Black Wave: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Forty-Year Rivalry That Unraveled Culture, Religion, and Collective Memory in the Middle East    (Kim Ghattas)
Kim Ghattas weaves the  history, geopolitics, and culture of the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, that were born from the sparks of the 1979 Iranian revolution and fueled by American policy.

March 2021:
Preventive Engagement: How America Can Avoid War, Stay Strong, and Keep the PeacePaul B. Stares ( 274 pp)
US needs to do a better job at both “looking ahead” and “acting ahead” to preserve the liberal international order in a way that avoids America reacting impulsively to emerging crises and consequently being drawn into potentially costly military commitments that over time drain its power and weaken its resolve to play a global leadership role.

April 2021:
China’s Western Horizon: Beijing and the New Geopolitics of Eurasia
(Daniel Markey)
China’s foreign policy initiatives, even the vaunted “Belt and Road”, will be shaped and redefined as they confront the ground realities of local and regional politics outside China.

May 2021:
War: How Conflict Shaped Us  Margaret MacMillan (272 pp) Argues that war — fighting and killing — is so intimately bound up with what it means to be human viewing it as an aberration misses the point. War has led to many of civilization’s great disasters but also to many of civilization’s greatest achievements.

June 2021:
The Hell of Good Intentions: America’s Foreign Policy Elite and the Decline of U.S. Primacy (Stephen M. Walt)
Stephen Walt places the onus of U.S. decline on its foreign policy establishment, hegemonic liberalism as an article of faith, and a lack of accountability for collective failure.

July 2021:
Us vs Them: The Failure of GlobalismIan Bremmer (208 pp) The past few years have “shattered the fantasy” of free trade lifting all nations economically, as those who’ve paid the price for globalism’s gains have turned to populists and nationalist politicians out of anger for the political, media, and corporate elites they blame for their losses.

August 2021:
The Sovereignty Wars: Reconciling America with the World   (Stewart M. Patrick)
Stewart Patrick challenges the reasoning that international cooperation undermines sovereignty and explains advancing U.S. interests in a complex world, which can require difficult trade-offs such as defending the U.S. Constitution, protecting U.S. freedom of action, and maximizing U.S. control over outcomes.

September 2021:
The New Censorship: Inside the Global Battle for Media FreedomJoel Simon (248 pp) Reporting from Pakistan, Russia, Turkey, Egypt, and Mexico, among other hotspots, Simon finds journalists under threat from all sides. The result is a growing crisis in information–a shortage of the news we need to make sense of our globalized world and fight human rights abuses, manage conflict, and promote accountability.

October 2021:
The Human Tide: How Population Shaped the Modern World (Paul Morland)
Combining human anecdotes with statistics, Paul Morland examines the influence of demography on history – in the initiation of wars, relations between nations and peoples, migration patterns that made and unmade nations and empires, social relations between men and women.

November 2021:
How to Lose the Information War: Russia, Fake News, and the Future of Conflict Nina Jankow  (288 pp) Five case studies in Central and Eastern Europe, examining different tactics Russia has deployed in Estonia, Georgia, Poland, Ukraine (its connection to the Netherlands), and the Czech Republic to further its aims. Each story in the book shows how for the last two decades, Putin led Russia has conducted influence operations straightforward for its veiled nature, using the internet to exploit and amplifies fears already existing that already exist in the countries the fabric of its targets.

December 2021:
Blaming Immigrants: Nationalism and the Economics of Global Movement (Neeraj Kaushal)
Global migration is not a crisis; the number of immigrants as a proportion of world population has not changed for over a century; immigration has many positive consequences for the host society.