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Development as Freedom

by economist Amartya Sen

This book offers a new paradigm to development and it has changed the face of international discourses around the subject. It focuses on the capabilities and freedoms of people as the true goals of development.

Even though the author is an economist, he offers examples that illustrate how money is not always enough or the best solution to development issues. A very holistic view to development, where empowerment is key, is what this book offers supported by a wide range of examples and well explained ideas.

Interventions: A Life in War and Peace

by former Secretary General to the United Nations Kofi Annan

A great inside into international politics as well as the work of the United Nations (UN) and what the role of Secretary General entitles. It provides a lot of details about precise moments in history and what was happening behind the curtains at the security council and between Mr. Annan and some dominant member states.

It is a great starting point for anyone who is not well versed in the work the UN does. It also provides answers to all those that have wondered why the organisation has not accomplished more in a timely manner.

Why Nations Fail: The origins of power, prosperity and poverty

by two American economists, Daron Acemoglu from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and James A. Robinson from Harvard University

A good effort in trying to explain why some nations do better than others, which according to the authors, is all down to the political and economic institutions which can be either extractive of inclusive.

The book does succeed in explaining why inclusive institutions do better for the whole population in general – including the more benefited elites – but it fails to pinpoint a formula for creating and maintaining them since key figures and casual turning points in history seem to be more decisive in building or destroying inclusive institutions.

Identity and Violence

by economist Amartya Sen

Excellent analysis on identify, an elegant critique is made to all those that do not rationally and morally chose the specifics of what they see as their identity – particularly those aspects that foment violence and hate.

A short and enjoyable read that is very relevant and will continue to be in the future as long as it is seen as a discourse that enables identities to evolve – without needing to be homogenous – towards ideologies that are not  violent and hateful towards others. The author advocates for identities that enhance individual experience and are positive.

The Lady and the Peacock: The Life of Aung San Suu Kyi

by Peter Popham

Through Aung San Suu Kyi (ASSK) one can view the world of politics and leadership very differently.  Buddhism seems to be the force behind this enigmatic character that many believe is the future of Burma/Myanmar – with links to the never materialised future that the father of ASSK wanted to build before he was killed, now seen as a hero in that country.

Despite much praise, the author does manage to point some political errors made by ASSK and her party, mainly due to political inexperience, that could have changed the game significantly. Overall is a heart breaking story of someone that has tried to uphold the moral precepts of the country at the cost of her family and well being, insisting in non-violent means to fight a rather oppressive military dictatorship that is still in power since the 1960s.

Long walk to freedom

by Nelson Mandela

A wonderful account of historic events through the eyes of Mandela. It offers a great insight into his mind and how big political strategies were born which changed the history of South Africa, particularly for the African population. He has an ability to get people on board and seems to have an unshakable integrity and clarity of mind, which helped him get through the darkest moments and allowed him to reemerge from prison after 30 years and still enjoying wide support.

Sadly the book finishes shortly after he is freed, which leaves the reader wishing it also included stories from his time as president and about the prolific years he had in international politics thereafter.

The idea of justice

by economist Amartya Sen

The author assesses the theories of justice throughout history, finding them too idealistic and not very practical. He proposes a theory that is based on public reasoning, impartial observation and on capabilities to assess justice claims, with the aim to tackle injustice.

In my view this books offers a more realistic and comprehensive approach to justice, and I am sure others will find it reasonable and very useful too.

 

The Behavioural Foundations of Public Policy

by Eldar Shafir (Editor)

This is a wonderful compilation of behavioural science findings spanning a wider range of topics, from labour and student policies to conflict management and health care interventions, covering decades of research produced by a multitude of relevant sources. It is a wonderful complement to traditional paradigms which I highly recommend reading and integrating for strategic and policy purposes.

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