Blog Archives

Around the World by Book

Summer is in full swing, with the long hot days, outdoor excursions, and the potential of relaxation beyond the weekends.   During the summer months, people often ask for reading recommendations for their vacation time whether it be on the beach, in the woods, or on the road.  We thought it would be fun to compile a list of suggested books with an international/global theme from those in our UNA-GB networks, including staff, interns, and our Board and Advisory Council members.  Check out our list below and also feel free to share what novels/memoirs/non-fiction books have captivated you lately!:

During a daytime when it is humid and sunny outside, I enjoy staying indoors and reading my favorite books.  One such book is  “A Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Who Dared to Raise Her Voice” by Malalai Joya. I had read this book while traveling, and it enlightened my tedious commute. There have been many books written by scholars and other experts about Afghanistan, but someone who is a native Afghan and has lived most of her life there, wrote this book. The book is not only about the country, it is also about a strong and inspiring female activist who is forced to live apart from her family and children and changes her home everyday because she has chosen to speak out against the violence and corruption. She has been describes as the “bravest woman in Afghanistan” by BBC.  I think everyone who is interested in world affairs and world issues should read this book.
-Muzhgan Rasul, UNA-GB Program Intern

When will be The End of Poverty? Dr. Jeffrey Sachs gives a new meaning to his PhD, taking up the role of the doctor to impoverished regions and coining the term “clinical economics”, to “cure” the world of extreme poverty. With only four more years left until the 2015 deadline of the Millennium Development Goals, this book is undoubtedly influential to the decisions and policies that will one day eliminate poverty. Dr. Sachs provides a detailed diagnosis of the issues faced by the world’s poorest and weaves in, along the way, vivid anecdotes from his first-hand experience in the rural regions of China, Kenya, Bolivia and other less economically developed countries. Combining all of his research, Dr. Sachs presents a prescription for poverty that calls for international cooperation and action in various domains from infrastructural reforms to increased official development assistance from developed countries. Has Dr. Sachs found the panacea for poverty? Probably not, but The End of Poverty remains a significant contribution to the study of development economics and must be read by anyone who believes in a future without hunger and disease and in a better world for all.  -Wing Miriam Wong, Education Intern

I recently read Arab Voices: What they are Saying to us and why it Matters by James Zogby.  Mr. Zogby is the head of the Arab American Institute, and the book covers everything from the way that Arab Americans feel here at home to extensive surveys on the opinions of Arabs and other Middle Easterners about the US and its policies.  It is a must read for anyone who has an interest in the modern Middle East and the United States’ relationship with the people there or any American who wants to have a fuller understanding of his or her country and the people who make up its rich and diverse society. -Christopher Asmar, Education Intern

“Five to Rule Them All: The UN Security Council and the Making of the Modern World” by David L. Bosco. This book is a must-read for anyone with an interest in the United Nations and/or international affairs. While many books on the subject are stuffy and academic, Bosco’s account of the formation and history of the Security Council is as accessible as it is interesting. Bosco was formerly a senior editor at Foreign Policy, an international lawyer, and deputy director of a joint UN/NATO refugee repatriation project in Sarajevo. He’s currently assistant professor of International Politics at American University. Also, check out his blog.
-Nick Blake, Education Intern

I would recommend “Paris: 1919” by the great Canadian historian Margaret MacMillan. It regards the negotiation of the Treaty of Versailles in Paris with all of the backdoor dealings following the First World War. MacMillan uses a critical analysis to persuasively argue against many of the accepted beliefs about the Paris peace process. It is a fascinating read and is presented in a very accessible manner, highly recommended for the amateur historian. The book has received a great deal of renown since it has been published and provides a vital backdrop to modern day world politics.
-James Fargher, Education Intern

Dani Rodrik’s The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of the World Economy is a well argued brief that democracy is necessary to temper the the idealistic notion that globalized markets are self regulating. He dives into fascinating case studies of the world economy and how the most successful and highly developed economies protected their domestic interests from the forces of globalization while simultaneously investing in health care and education which allowed domestic labor markets to take advantage of opportunities as they arose.
– Jennifer Irizarry, UNA-GB Education Coordinator

The Blue Sweater is the inspiring personal memoir of Jacqueline Novogratz, the founder of the Acumen Fund and a dynamic leader committed to combating global poverty in innovative new ways.  The book’s title comes from one of Novogratz’ first experiences with globalization -a decade after she had donated a unique handmade sweater she wore as a child to Goodwill, she came across the exact same sweater on a young boy in Rwanda.  Her story spans the difficulties of development, aid and poverty reduction, beginning from her firsthand experiences on the ground in Africa and follows her as she goes through business school, enters the workforce, and learns the power of philanthropy and finances.  Ultimately her focus becomes a forward form of philanthropic investing called “patient capital”, which is creating the potential to make people self-sufficient and change millions of lives.  As the website aptly describes, this book is “more than just an auto-biography or a how-to guide to tackling poverty; [it] challenges us to grant dignity to the poor and to rethink our engagement with the world.”  Just the challenge worth accepting over the summer!
-Kaitlin Hasseler, UNA-GB Program Manager

Additional suggested readings include: Gandhi: The True Man Behind Modern India by Jad Adams.
-Valerie Epps, UNA-GB Board Member.

The Lady and the Panda by Vicki Croke for an intriguing read. And, it has a local Boston angle to the story too.
-Kari Heistad, Board Member.

I enjoyed the Power of One by Bryce Courtenay and The Power of Gold by Peter L. Bernstein.
-Will Febbo, Board Member.

The Bottom Billion by Paul Collier, an incisive insight into the rampant poverty in the world’s midst of plenty.
-Ajmal Qureshi, Board Member.

Poor Economics by Banerjee and Duflo, 1491 by Charles C. Mann and The Great Bridge by David McCullogh.
-Clark Abt, Advisory Council Member.

Again, please share your suggestions with us as well so we can continue to educate one another on the many global challenges we have and are facing.

-Muzhgan

Two Sides To Invest

Check out our newest blog post for our Get Educated, One Topic At A Time blog series! Learn about Foreign Direct Investment and its effects on Latin America and its economy. Don’t forget to check out the first two posts of this series as well, “Creating A Road To Democracy” and “A Historical Moment For Genocide”. Check back next Monday for another post!

This fall at the UNAGB Regional Model UN Conference, the Economic Commission of Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) will be debating foreign direct investment into the region. Today, Latin America accounts for 10% of the global FDI stock.

Investment spending by foreign multinational corporations in the region was worth USD$ 85 billion in 2010. Foreign direct investment not only creates capital through Greenfield investments, but also technological and other positive spillovers that have been vital in accelerating the economic growth of booming economies of Brazil, Mexico and others in the region. However, it is most important to analyze and discuss whether the economic growth has led to an increase in the quality of living of all people in the region.

Historically, foreign corporations have economically exploited the region since the colonial era. Spanish and Portuguese settlers forced indigenous people to mine silver and cultivate sugar so that the natural resources of the region could be shipped back to Europe. To some critics, colonialism in Latin America did not end with the revolutions that brought independence to the region—it has merely changed in form, from military power to economic power, into neocolonialism. The American corporation United Fruit Company, now known as Chiquita, owned entire regions of Guatemala, gaining even more power than the local government. With its military force back by the U.S., domination of banana plantations, and control over railways and other infrastructure, the United Fruit Company was named “the octopus” by the local people and ultimately caused the many problems with underdevelopment, crime and violence that the impoverished country still has to deal with today.

With the NAFTA agreements to create maquiladoras in 1993, over a million Mexicans started working at thousands of industrial factories along the U.S.-Mexico border, manufacturing products from apparel to auto parts for American, Japanese, and European corporations such as General Motors and Samsung. Lax regulations on these factories have caused harmful effects on Mexico’s environment. Employees are paid minimally for working up to ten hours a day. Increasing competition with other newly industrializing countries in recent years has caused many maquiladoras to shut down, causing unemployment for hundred thousands of workers. Foreign direct investment brings both positive and negative effects to the region.

Foreign direct investment has increased the competitiveness of the Latin American economy, fostering an increasing number of regional corporations that are starting to go global. “Multilatinas” like Petrobras and more are climbing up on the Fortune Global 500 list. ECLAC will be presenting its annual Economic Survey of Latin America and the Caribbean, a report of the region’s economic performance country by country, at its headquarters in Santiago, Chile this Wednesday, July 13.

-Miriam