A valuable contribution to the global-governance debate.

HOW TO RUN THE WORLD

New America Foundation senior research fellow Khanna (The Second World: Empires and Influence in the New Global Order, 2008) calls for a new “mega-diplomacy” to solve problems in a period of global uncertainty.

Diplomats have long negotiated how to run the world, writes the author. In ancient Sumerian city-states, they channeled the messages of deities among kings. In modern times, they have divvied up the globe after major wars. With no single power in control, today’s “fractured, fragmented, ungovernable” post–Cold War world demands a new kind of diplomacy based on coalitions of governments, corporations and civic actors. Empowered by the information revolution, writes Khanna, public and private partners can collaborate efficiently across national borders to meet such 21st-century challenges as terrorism, the AIDS epidemic and climate change. Key practitioners of this new diplomacy include the entrepreneurs, academics, activists, celebrities and others who have worked in unusual and collaborative ways to achieve such goals as a landmine ban, debt relief and the International Criminal Court. They range from Bill and Melinda Gates to luminaries like Bono and Angelina Jolie—all individuals with resources and influence—and include NGOs like the Open Society Institute, which shapes important global questions; the World Economic Forum, “archetype of the new diplomacy,” which brings diverse players together on equal footing at annual summits; and the Clinton Global Initiative, which fosters cross-sector partnerships among leaders in politics, business and civil society. Khanna suggests ways in which the new diplomacy can help spur fresh approaches in problem areas—encouraging greater intelligence cooperation on terrorism among countries, giving Somali fishermen incentives to not engage in piracy (such as new boats to boost their catch) and convincing regimes in Iran and North Korea that they don’t need nuclear programs. In the environmental arena, meaningful public-private initiatives spurred by the new diplomacy can have far more impact than international agreements, he writes. For a model of mega-diplomacy, the author points to Europe, where members of the borderless European Union are experimenting and cooperating to meet shared challenges.

A valuable contribution to the global-governance debate.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4000-6827-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2010

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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