A provocative and timely call for a new approach to understanding international affairs.



A founder of a consulting firm argues for a new discipline called geofinance to meet the analytical demands of an ever changing world. 

Vander Straeten (Tail Risk Management, 2017) contends that neither geopolitics nor geoeconomics is currently adequate as explanatory paradigms. Given four major trends—the increasing financialization of the world market, globalization, liberalization, and the rising significance of international markets in the wake of deregulation—a wholly new approach is necessary, one that not only captures the ways in which political currents shape the world financial landscape, but also how monetary forces profoundly impact geopolitical affairs. The author begins the book in search of a precise definition of geofinance and auditions several different iterations, but this one comprehensively covers the criteria he seems to be after: “Geofinance traditionally studies the links between financial power and geographic space, and it examines strategic prescriptions based on the relative importance of the balance of power between financial markets and nations as well as, more generally speaking, the balance of power among government-sponsored and private organizations across world history.” Vander Straeten distinguishes geofinance from its existing disciplinary competitors, discusses its methodological approaches, and makes a vigorous argument not only for its value, but also for its indispensability. The author discusses the dynamic causality that characterizes the relation between finance and politics, focusing not only on state actors, but also subnational forces like markets, private companies, international institutions, and even financially influential individuals. Finally, he specifically assesses a series of real-world case studies and issues predictions regarding the world’s geofinancial outlook. Vander Straeten is the founder and head of Value4Risk Geofinancial Risk Consulting and has more than 25 years of risk management experience behind him, an accumulated expertise that shows in his self-assured command of the material. His prose is flawlessly clear despite the often technical nature of the subject. As a result, the book is accessible to a nonscholarly audience, though it’s primarily addressed to an academic one. In addition, the author artfully balances the theoretical and practical aspects of his disciplinary proposal, explaining the intellectual framework of geofinance as well as furnishing concrete examples of its applications. In fact, one of the most striking features of the study is the running critique of the social sciences. Vander Straeten is unsatisfied with the general acceptance of causal determinism, preferring the “indeterminate complexity” that biology and mathematics generally accept. But he’s still wary of mathematics as the underpinning of a comprehensive analytical methodology. (He parenthetically provides an astute account of the limitations of big data.) The author limns an analogy between geofinance and Darwinian evolution in terms of the adaptability, progress, and the competitive striving for power of financial and political actors. But that comparison turns out to be threadbare—he could have just as easily likened his approach to Thucydides’ study of war or Machiavelli’s investigation of principalities. Still, vander Straeten makes an attractive argument for a new theoretical framework that’s both more comprehensive and more common-sensically devoted to the unvarnished exploration of human behavior than most of the social sciences. 

A provocative and timely call for a new approach to understanding international affairs. 

Pub Date: March 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-984393-17-3

Page Count: 192

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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