Books by David Callahan

DAVID CALLAHAN has written extensively about American history, business, and public policy. He is author of The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead (Harcourt, Jan. 2004). His five previous books include Kindred Spirits: Harva


THE GIVERS by David Callahan
NON-FICTION
Released: April 11, 2017

"An eye-opening view of a vast sector of the economy that lies in the shadows but has undue influence, for ill or good."
Intriguing look at the world of big-ticket philanthropy, which shows promise of surpassing much governmental social-service spending in the near future. Read full book review >
HISTORY
Released: Sept. 11, 2006

"Callahan is onto something, notably the insight that patriotism and libertarianism may be incompatible. However, he too obviously tries to market Old Left wine in new evangelical bottles to be persuasive."
Political activist Callahan (The Cheating Culture, 2004, etc.) urges progressives to recast their agenda in moral terms, the better to attract a theologically traditionalist electorate. Read full book review >
NONFICTION
Released: Jan. 1, 1998

A skillful explanation of the explosion of conflicts within the last 30 years arising from religious, cultural, linguistic, and territorial differences—and of the policies the US can pursue to defuse these tinderboxes. Callahan (State of the Union, 1997, etc.) gives comparatively cursory treatment to long-standing conflicts with steady but comparatively low casualty rates (e.g., northern Ulster), concentrating instead on those featuring a sudden paroxysm of destruction, including Biafra in 1968, Lebanon in the late 1970s, and Bosnia, Rwanda, and Chechnya in the 1990s. While acknowledging that America's handling of some ethnic conflicts has sometimes been adroit (e.g., Kosovo, the Baltic states), Callahan more often criticizes both Republican and Democratic administrations for mishandling crises. Sometimes mistakes arose from ideological blinders, as in the Nixon administration's unwillingness to recognize Bangladesh if it meant alienating Pakistan, a counterweight to what was seen as a more communist-leaning India. Other times the errors resulted from a preoccupation with other crises (e.g., when the Johnson administration, bedeviled by Vietnam, suddenly found itself facing the world's first TV images of mass famine from Biafra). Recognizing that a blanket policy on self-determination is self-defeating, Callahan offers useful guidelines that can be applied case by case. He warns bluntly that ``uncertainty and frustration are permanent features of post-cold war internationalism,'' and that Americans will have to accept that force will sometimes be misapplied, as in Somalia and Lebanon. Although Callahan dismisses the costs of intervention too quickly, he is more convincing in noting that many options short of overwhelming force exist to quell paroxysms of violence. Aside from intervention, he advocates larger American funding to further UN early conflict resolution and multinational peacekeeping, as well as improved State Department reporting on unrest within countries. An intelligent, sober, nonmoralistic argument for mediating ethnic strife before killing fields result. Read full book review >
STATE OF THE UNION by David Callahan
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: June 2, 1997

Clunky Clancy-esque government insider tale of an attempted Washington coup d'etat and the brooding Green Beret who stops it, by a former US foreign-policy analyst. After a well-received biography of Cold Warrior Paul Nitze (Dangerous Capabilities, 1990) and a foreign policy primer (Between Two Worlds, not reviewed), this fictional turn from Callahan, resident scholar at the Twentieth Century Fund, suffers from tediously predictable plotting and prose that begs for a salvo of editorial smart bombs: The desirable gal Friday of one of the book's half-dozen villains ``slung barbs with pursed lips and responded to attacks with either slashing wit or feminine pouting. Everything about her was inviting.'' Special Forces Lieutenant Zach Turzin, having just won the Congressional Medal of Honor for leading a commando raid into Iraq, is recruited to the staff of Admiral Jeff Forsten, the blustering, right-wing vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff whose spirited lust for combat during the Vietnam War cloaks a history of covert heroin smuggling and arms trading. Forsten introduces Turzin to Douglas Sherman, a wealthy, failed presidential candidate whose shadowy relations with Hong Kong businessman Donald Chen and terrorist chieftan Sheik Abdul Tabrata would make any remotely intelligent American officer quit the corps. Persuading himself that these just might be decent fellows, Turzin, who gets nightmares about his best buddy's tragic death back in Iraq, beds Justine, Sherman's barb-slinging mistress, while, in Oman, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs is murdered in an apparent terrorist attack. Hoping to disprove nasty rumors about Forsten's complicity, Turzin finds Forsten and company heading a complicated conspiracy aimed at wiping out most of the executive and legislative branches of government by blowing up the Capitol during the State of the Union address. Cautionary, ineptly written Pentagon procedural weighed down by flabby characterizations, limp dialogue, and a pile of mangled corpses. (Film rights to MGM) Read full book review >