World Affairs Council Book Group

World Affairs Council Book Group

The World Affairs Council's Book Group meets on the 4th Sunday of every month from 11:00am-12pm at Books Inc. in Opera Plaza, 601 Van Ness, San Francisco. Tel: 415.776.1111.
 
New members are always welcome!
 
Visit them on Facebook!

Cutting for Stone (Paperback)

$15.95
ISBN-13: 9780375714368
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage, 1/2010
May 2014 Selection: Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon. Orphaned by their mother's death and their father's disappearance, bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution.
Moving from Addis Ababa to New York City and back again, "Cutting for Stone" is an unforgettable story of love and betrayal, medicine and ordinary miracles--and two brothers whose fates are forever intertwined.

$13.95
ISBN-13: 9780872862944
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: City Lights Publishers, 1/1995
April 2014 Selection:

The Zapatista Army emerged from the jungle on New Year's Day, 1994, and provoked a national crisis in Mexico. At a demonstration in Mexico City, over 100,000 people marched together and shouted, First World, HA HA HA!--a defiant declaration of solidarity with the rebels, an insurgent army of indigenous campesinos who have challenged the direction of Mexico's future.

The Chiapas uprising was internationally hailed as a direct attack on the new world order. It was a milestone in the continuing history of indigenous resistance in the Americas, and an important development in the growing worldwide struggle against global policies of economic colonization.

In this collection, writers from Mexico and the United States provide the background and context for the Zapatista movement, and explore its impact, in Mexico and beyond.


$16.95
ISBN-13: 9780393343403
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company, 9/2012
March 2014 Selection: One of the world's most celebrated scholars, Stephen Greenblatt has crafted both an innovative work of history and a thrilling story of discovery, in which one manuscript, plucked from a thousand years of neglect, changed the course of human thought and made possible the world as we know it. Nearly six hundred years ago, a short, genial, cannily alert man in his late thirties took a very old manuscript off a library shelf, saw with excitement what he had discovered, and ordered that it be copied. That book was the last surviving manuscript of an ancient Roman philosophical epic, On the Nature of Things, by Lucretius--a beautiful poem of the most dangerous ideas: that the universe functioned without the aid of gods, that religious fear was damaging to human life, and that matter was made up of very small particles in eternal motion, colliding and swerving in new directions. The copying and translation of this ancient book-the greatest discovery of the greatest book-hunter of his age-fueled the Renaissance, inspiring artists such as Botticelli and thinkers such as Giordano Bruno; shaped the thought of Galileo and Freud, Darwin and Einstein; and had a revolutionary influence on writers such as Montaigne and Shakespeare and even Thomas Jefferson.

$16.00
ISBN-13: 9780812978506
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 1/2011
February 2014 Selection: Now includes "The Life Inc. Guide to Reclaiming the Value You Create"
In "Life Inc, " award-winning writer Douglas Rushkoff traces how corporations went from being convenient legal fictions to being the dominant fact of contemporary life. The resulting ideology, corporatism, has infiltrated all aspects of civics, commerce, and culture--from the founding of the first chartered monopoly to the branding of the self, from the invention of central currency to the privatization of banking, from the Victorian Great Exhibition to the solipsism of Facebook. "Life Inc" explains why we see our homes as investments rather than places to live, our 401(k) plans as the ultimate measure of success, and the Internet as just another place to do business. Most important, Rushkoff""illuminates both how we've become disconnected from our world and how we can reconnect to our towns, to the value we can create, and, mostly, to one another. As the speculative economy collapses under its own weight, "Life Inc "shows us how to build a real and human-scaled society to take its place.

1984 (Mass Market Paperback)

$9.99
ISBN-13: 9780451524935
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Signet Classics, 7/1950
January 2014 Selection: 1984 has come and gone, but George Orwell's prophetic, nightmare vision in 1949 of the world we were becoming is timelier than ever. "1984" is still the great modern classic "negative Utopia" - a startling original and haunting novel that creates an imaginary world that is completely convincing from the first sentence to the last four words. No one can deny this novel's power, its hold on the imagination of whole generations, or the power of its admonitions - a power that seems to grow, not lessen, with the passage of time.

$15.95
ISBN-13: 9780393337129
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company, 11/2009
December 2013 Selection: Named one of the best art books of 2008 by The New York Times and The Sunday Times [London]: "An indelible portrait of a peculiar society." -- Vogue The art market has been booming. Museum attendance is surging. More people than ever call themselves artists. Contemporary art has become a mass entertainment, a luxury good, a job description, and, for some, a kind of alternative religion. In a series of beautifully paced narratives, Sarah Thornton investigates the drama of a Christie's auction, the workings in Takashi Murakami's studios, the elite at the Basel Art Fair, the eccentricities of Artforum magazine, the competition behind an important art prize, life in a notorious art-school seminar, and the wonderland of the Venice Biennale. She reveals the new dynamics of creativity, taste, status, money, and the search for meaning in life. A judicious and juicy account of the institutions that have the power to shape art history, based on hundreds of interviews with high-profile players, Thornton's entertaining ethnography will change the way you look at contemporary culture. 8 illustrations

$15.99
ISBN-13: 9780061231773
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial, 7/2008
November 2013 Selection: To travel the Silk Road, the greatest land route on earth, is to trace the passage not only of trade and armies but also of ideas, religions, and inventions. Making his way by local bus, truck, car, donkey cart, and camel, Colin Thubron covered some seven thousand miles in eight months--out of the heart of China into the mountains of Central Asia, across northern Afghanistan and the plains of Iran into Kurdish Turkey--and explored an ancient world in modern ferment.

$16.00
ISBN-13: 9780312429942
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador, 10/2010
October 2013 Selection: Set in Romania at the height of Ceauescu's reign of terror, "The Land of Green Plums" tells the story of a group of young people who leave the impoverished province for the city in search of better prospects and camaraderie. But their hopes are ravaged, because the city, no less than the countryside, bears everywhere the mark of the dictatorship's corrosive touch. All the narrator's friends--teachers and students of vaguely dissident allegiance--betray her, do away with themselves, or both. As they do so, we see the way the totalitarian state comes to inhabit every human realm and how everyone, even the strongest, must either bend to the oppressors or resist them and thereby perish.
Herta Muller, herself a survivor of Ceausescu's police state, speaks from intimate experience. Scene by scene, in language at once harsh and poetic, she constructs a devastating picture of a society and a generation ruined by fear. In simple images of hieroglyphic power--policeman filling their pockets and mouths with green plums; girls sleeping with abattoir workers for bags of offal; a docile proletariat making things no one wants--"tin sheep and wooden watermelons"--Muller anatomizes a country and its citizens and the corruption that has rotted the core of both.

$14.95
ISBN-13: 9780618658947
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books, 6/2006
August 2013 Selection: First published more than thirty years ago, Paul Theroux's strange, unique, and hugely entertaining railway odyssey has become a modern classic of travel literature. Here Theroux recounts his early adventures on an unusual grand continental tour. Asia's fabled trains -- the Orient Express, the Khyber Pass Local, the Frontier Mail, the Golden Arrow to Kuala Lumpur, the Mandalay Express, the Trans-Siberian Express -- are the stars of a journey that takes him on a loop eastbound from London's Victoria Station to Tokyo Central, then back from Japan on the Trans-Siberian. Brimming with Theroux's signature humor and wry observations, this engrossing chronicle is essential reading for both the ardent adventurer and the armchair traveler.

$14.00
ISBN-13: 9780375713279
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage, 5/2003
July 2013 Selection: The six stories in Haruki Murakami's mesmerizing collection are set at the time of the catastrophic 1995 Kobe earthquake, when Japan became brutally aware of the fragility of its daily existence. But the upheavals that afflict Murakami's characters are even deeper and more mysterious, emanating from a place where the human meets the inhuman.
An electronics salesman who has been abruptly deserted by his wife agrees to deliver an enigmatic package--and is rewarded with a glimpse of his true nature. A man who has been raised to view himself as the son of God pursues a stranger who may or may not be his human father. A mild-mannered collection agent receives a visit from a giant talking frog who enlists his help in saving Tokyo from destruction. As haunting as dreams, as potent as oracles, the stories in""After the Quake are further proof that Murakami is one of the most visionary writers at work today.

$18.00
ISBN-13: 9780143038825
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Penguin Books, 3/2007
June 2013 Selection: From one of the world's best-known development economists--an excoriating attack on the tragic hubris of the West's efforts to improve the lot of the so-called developing world In his previous book, "The Elusive Quest for Growth," William Easterly criticized the utter ineffectiveness of Western organizations to mitigate global poverty, and he was promptly fired by his then-employer, the World Bank. "The White Man's Burden" is his widely anticipated counterpunch--a brilliant and blistering indictment of the West's economic policies for the world's poor. Sometimes angry, sometimes irreverent, but always clear-eyed and rigorous, Easterly argues that we in the West need to face our own history of ineptitude and draw the proper conclusions, especially at a time when the question of our ability to transplant Western institutions has become one of the most pressing issues we face.

$16.00
ISBN-13: 9780812931297
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Broadway Books, 8/2000
May 2013 Selection: Ever since Nelson Mandela dramatically walked out of prison in 1990 after twenty-seven years behind bars, South Africa has been undergoing a radical transformation. In one of the most miraculous events of the century, the oppressive system of apartheid was dismantled. Repressive laws mandating separation of the races were thrown out. The country, which had been carved into a crazy quilt that reserved the most prosperous areas for whites and the most desolate and backward for blacks, was reunited. The dreaded and dangerous security force, which for years had systematically tortured, spied upon, and harassed people of color and their white supporters, was dismantled. But how could this country--one of spectacular beauty and promise--come to terms with its ugly past? How could its people, whom the oppressive white government had pitted against one another, live side by side as friends and neighbors?
To begin the healing process, Nelson Mandela created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, headed by the renowned cleric Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Established in 1995, the commission faced the awesome task of hearing the testimony of the victims of apartheid as well as the oppressors. Amnesty was granted to those who offered a full confession of any crimes associated with apartheid. Since the commission began its work, it has been the central player in a drama that has riveted the country. In this book, Antjie Krog, a South African journalist and poet who has covered the work of the commission, recounts the drama, the horrors, the wrenching personal stories of the victims and their families. Through the testimonies of victims of abuse and violence, from the appearance of Winnie Mandela to former South African president P. W. Botha's extraordinary courthouse press conference, this award-winning poet leads us on an amazing journey.
Country of My Skull captures the complexity of the Truth Commission's work. The narrative is often traumatic, vivid, and provocative. Krog's powerful prose lures the reader actively and inventively through a mosaic of insights, impressions, and secret themes. This compelling tale is Antjie Krog's profound literary account of the mending of a country that was in colossal need of change.

$35.00
ISBN-13: 9780385515696
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Doubleday, 10/2012
April 2013 Selection: In the long-awaited follow-up to her Pulitzer Prize-winning "Gulag," acclaimed journalist Anne Applebaum delivers a groundbreaking history of how Communism took over Eastern Europe after World War II and transformed in frightening fashion the individuals who came under its sway.
At the end of World War II, the Soviet Union to its surprise and delight found itself in control of a huge swath of territory in Eastern Europe. Stalin and his secret police set out to convert a dozen radically different countries to Communism, a completely new political and moral system. In "Iron Curtain," Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Anne Applebaum describes how the Communist regimes of Eastern Europe were created and what daily life was like once they were complete. She draws on newly opened East European archives, interviews, and personal accounts translated for the first time to portray in devastating detail the dilemmas faced by millions of individuals trying to adjust to a way of life that challenged their every belief and took away everything they had accumulated. Today the Soviet Bloc is a lost civilization, one whose cruelty, paranoia, bizarre morality, and strange aesthetics Applebaum captures in the electrifying pages of "Iron Curtain."

This Book Is Not Sold Online - In Store Special Order Only
ISBN-13: 9781935212812
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Prospecta Press, 9/2012
February 2013 Selection: n the past three decades, China has risen from near collapse to a powerhouse -- upending nearly every convention on the world stage, whether policy or business. China is now the globe's second largest economy, second largest exporter, a manufacturing machine that has lifted 500 million of its citizens from poverty while producing more than one million US dollar millionaires. Then why do China's leaders describe the nation's economic model as unstable and unsustainable? Because it is. James McGregor has spent 25 years in China as a businessman, journalist and author. In this, his latest highly readable book, he offers extensive new research that pulls back the curtain on China's economic power. He describes the much-vaunted China Model as one of authoritarian capitalism, a unique system that, in its own way, is terminating itself. It is proving incompatible with global trade and business governance. It is threatening multinationals, which fear losing their business secrets and technology to China's mammoth state-owned enterprises. It is fielding those SOEs China's national champions -- into a global order angered by heavily subsidized state capitalism. And it is relying on an outdated investment and export model that's running out of steam. What has worked in the past, won't work in the future. The China Model must be radically overhauled if the country hopes to continue its march toward prosperity. The nation must consume more of what it makes. It must learn to innovate. It must unleash private enterprise. And the Communist Party bosses? They must cede their pervasive and smothering hold on economic power to foster the growth, and thus social stability, that they can't survive without. Government must step back, the state-owned economy must be brought to heel, and opportunity must be freed. During the Tang Dynasty, an official in the imperial court observed: No ancient wisdom, no followers. He was lamenting that regime was headed alone into dangerous and uncharted waters without any precedent for guidance. Again today as McGregor makes clear this is China's greatest challenge.

$16.00
ISBN-13: 9780374531805
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2/2009
December 2012 Selection:As the novel opens, Artemio Cruz, the all-powerful newspaper magnate and land baron, lies confined to his bed and, in dreamlike flashes, recalls the pivotal episodes of his life. Carlos Fuentes manipulates the ensuing kaleidoscope of images with dazzling inventiveness, layering memory upon memory, from Cruz's heroic campaigns during the Mexican Revolution, through his relentless climb from poverty to wealth, to his uneasy death. Perhaps Fuentes's masterpiece, "The Death of Artemio Cruz "is a haunting voyage into the soul of modern Mexico.

$25.00
ISBN-13: 9781550051728
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 11/2010

November 2012 Selection:

Who killed the British Empire? Why did history s largest imperial system collapse dramatically in the years following the Second World War? The book opens in 1930 with the Empire at the point of its greatest expansion. Unexpectedly, three events in that year were to have a cataclysmic effect and start the Empire on an irreversible decline Gandhi s Salt March, the surrender of Weihaiwei to the Chinese nationalists, and the negotiations leading to the Statue of Westminster, in which Canada was the leading advocate of dominion progress towards virtual independence.Gorge Woodcock is the author or editor of more than 40 books. He has received three honorary degrees and numerous fellowships and awards, including the Molson Prize and the Governor General s Award for Literature.


This Book Is Not Sold Online - In Store Special Order Only
ISBN-13: 9780312590734
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: St. Martin's Press, 2/2012
October 2012 Selection:

Thirty years after her death in March 1982, Ayn Rand's ideas have never been more important. Unfettered capitalism, unregulated business, bare-bones government providing no social services, glorification of selfishness, disdain for Judeo-Christian morality--these are the tenets of Rand's harsh philosophy.

In "Ayn Rand Nation"," " Gary Weiss explores the people and institutions that remain under the spell of the Russian-born novelist. He provides new insights into Rand's inner circle in the last years of her life, with revelations of never-before-publicized predictions by Rand that still resonate today. Weiss charts Rand's infiltration of the Tea Party and Libertarian movements, and provides an inside look at the radical belief system that has exerted a powerful influence on the Republican Party and its presidential candidates. It's a fascinating cast of characters that ranges from Glenn Beck to Oliver Stone, and includes Rand's most influential disciple, Alan Greenspan. Weiss describes in penetrating detail how Greenspan became a stalking horse for Rand--slashing and burning regulations with ideological zeal, and then seeking to conceal her influence on his life and thinking. Lastly, Weiss provides a strategy for a renewed national dialogue, an embrace of the nation's core values that is needed to deal with Rand's pervasive grip on society.

From "The Fountainhead" and "Atlas Shrugged" to Rand's lesser-known and misunderstood nonfiction books, Gary Weiss examines the impact of Rand's thinking across our society.

$17.00
ISBN-13: 9780143116172
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books, 10/2009
September 2012 Selection: A richly original look at the origins of money and how it makes the world go ?round
Niall Ferguson follows the money to tell the human story behind the evolution of our financial system, from its genesis in ancient Mesopotamia to the latest upheavals on what he calls Planet Finance. What's more, Ferguson reveals financial history as the essential backstory behind all history, arguing that the evolution of credit and debt was as important as any technological innovation in the rise of civilization. As Ferguson traces the crisis from ancient Egypt's Memphis to today's Chongqing, he offers bold and compelling new insights into the rise? and fall?of not just money but Western power as well.

$17.00
ISBN-13: 9780312427726
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Picador, 5/2008
August 2012 pick: In her unsparing and illuminating account of the effects of AIDS in Africa, Epstein describes how health experts, governments, and ordinary Africans have struggled to understand the rapid and devastating spread of the disease as well as new medical and political developments.

$16.00
ISBN-13: 9780375705779
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Vintage, 11/2001
July 2012 Pick: At the center of this unforgettable tale is Mugezi, a young man who manages to make it through the hellish reign of Idi Amin and experiences firsthand the most crushing aspects of Ugandan society: he withstands his distant father's oppression and his mother's cruelty in the name of Catholic zeal, endures the ravages of war, rape, poverty, and AIDS, and yet he is able to keep a hopeful and even occasionally amusing outlook on life. Mugezi's hard-won observations form a cri de coeur for a people shaped by untold losses.

This Book Is Not Sold Online - In Store Special Order Only
ISBN-13: 9781400068418
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Random House, 10/2011
June 2012 Pick: In this forceful and impassioned book, Jeffrey D. Sachs offers a searing and incisive diagnosis of our country's economic ills, and an urgent call for Americans to restore the core virtues of fairness, honesty, and foresight as the foundations of national prosperity. Sachs finds that both political parties--and many leading economists--have missed the big picture, profoundly underestimating globalization's long-term effects and offering shortsighted solutions. He describes a political system that is beholden to big donors and influential lobbyists and a consumption-driven culture that suffers shortfalls of social trust and compassion. He bids readers to reclaim the virtues of good citizenship and mindfulness toward the economy and each one another. Most important, he urges each of us to accept the price of civilization, so that together we restore America to its great promise. "The Price of Civilization" is a masterly road map for prosperity, founded on America's deepest values and on a rigorous understanding of the twenty-first-century world economy.

$15.95
ISBN-13: 9781577319016
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: New World Library, 8/2010
May 2012 Pick: Dreaming is vital to the human story. It is essential to our survival and evolution, to creative endeavors in every field, and, quite simply, to getting us through our daily lives. All of us dream. Now Robert Moss shows us how dreams have shaped world events and why deepening our conscious engagement with dreaming is crucial for our future. He traces the strands of dreams through archival records and well-known writings, weaving remarkable yet true accounts of historical figures who were influenced by their dreams. In this wide-ranging, visionary book, Moss creates a new way to explore history and consciousness, combining the storytelling skills of a bestselling novelist with the research acumen of a scholar of ancient history and the personal experience of an active dreamer.

$19.00
ISBN-13: 9780156701532
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books, 3/1973
April 2012 Pick: Hannah Arendt's definitive work on totalitarianism and an essential component of any study of twentieth-century political history "The Origins of Totalitarianism" begins with the rise of anti-Semitism in central and western Europe in the 1800s and continues with an examination of European colonial imperialism from 1884 to the outbreak of World War I. Arendt explores the institutions and operations of totalitarian movements, focusing on the two genuine forms of totalitarian government in our time--Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia--which she adroitly recognizes were two sides of the same coin, rather than opposing philosophies of Right and Left. From this vantage point, she discusses the evolution of classes into masses, the role of propaganda in dealing with the nontotalitarian world, the use of terror, and the nature of isolation and loneliness as preconditions for total domination.

$16.95
ISBN-13: 9781590174555
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: NYRB Classics, 8/2011
March 2012 Pick:

$18.00
ISBN-13: 9780143116844
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Penguin Books, 12/2009
February 2012 Pick: A military expert reveals how science fiction is fast becoming reality on the battlefield, changing not just how wars are fought, but also the politics, economics, laws, and ethics that surround war itself.