Faculty Book Recommendations
The International Relations Online at American University faculty is dedicated to providing information and teachings on topics central to international relations. We asked economics Professor Dr. Stephen Silvia, and politics of global development Professor Dr. Eve Bratman what IR books they recommend to read this summer. Here are their recommendations.
Dr. Stephen Silvia – Capital in the 21st Century by Thomas Piketty
It’s the most talked about economics book this year. Piketty’s thesis is that in normal times, wages grow at more or less the same pace as the general economy. The return on investments is typically larger. As a result, under normal circumstances, the rich—who hold most investments—keep getting a larger share of economic returns, which increases inequality. The only things that have reversed this historically are war, huge economic crises, or large natural disasters, like plagues. The middle of the 20th century, which saw a substantial reduction of inequality in the wake of the two world wars, was an aberration. Piketty argues that our current age of inequality is actually the norm.
Dr. Eve Bratman – Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
It’s an intriguing exploration of the lives of people living in an informal Indian settlement, and it brings up important insights about poor people’s coping mechanisms, the challenges of corruption, and the harsh realities of ethnic tensions in communities where people are living in very close and precarious conditions. In spite of the intense topic and the non-fiction nature of the book, the narrative style of her writing and the character development draws readers in and and makes for a gripping read.