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Wish Lanterns: Young Lives in New China, by Alec Ash, Picador, RRP£16.99
The people currently ruling China lived through the upheavals of the Cultural Revolution and Tiananmen. The millennials who will shape China’s future face very different pressures and challenges. In a study that is both literary and political, Ash tries to understand China’s future through the lives and aspirations of its rising generation.
CEO, China: The Rise of Xi Jinping, by Kerry Brown, IB Taurus, RRP£20/$28
Xi Jinping, president of China, is now undoubtedly one of the most powerful men in the world. This is the first biography of Xi in English and provides a lucid and readable account of his background, rise to power and political programme.
American Maelstrom: The 1968 Election and the Politics of Division, by Michael Cohen, OUP, RRP£18.99/$29.95
This year’s presidential election campaign has revealed a bitterly divided and radicalised US. Those searching for precedents will enjoy Cohen’s sparkling history of the dramatic and violent 1968 election, which saw the assassination of Bobby Kennedy, a riot at the Democratic convention and the eventual triumph of Richard Nixon.
Syria Burning: A Short History of a Catastrophe, by Charles Glass, Verso, RRP£8.99/$16.95
The civil war in Syria is simultaneously a humanitarian catastrophe and an international crisis. Glass, a veteran observer of the Middle East, explains briefly and lucidly how the disaster has unfolded. His book is angry but non-partisan, and stresses the role that foreign powers have played in ripping Syria apart.
Blood Year: The Unraveling of Western Counterterrorism, by David Kilcullen, Hurst, RRP£9.99
David Kilcullen, an Australian military officer and academic, was deeply involved in the US counterinsurgency campaign in Iraq. His engrossing book combines personal reminiscence with non-partisan analysis of what went wrong — and warns of the risk of further deterioration.
Alter Egos: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and the Twilight Struggle Over American Power, by Mark Landler, WH Allen, RRP£20/ Random House, RRP$28
Landler’s closely reported study of the making of US foreign policy over the past eight years serves both as a study of the Obama years and a preview of a possible Clinton presidency — with the strong suggestion that Hillary’s instincts are notably more hawkish than those of Obama.
Britain’s Europe: A Thousand Years of Conflict and Cooperation, by Brendan Simms, Allen Lane, RRP£20
Anyone seeking to understand the deeper political and historical forces behind Britain’s referendum on EU membership would profit from reading Simms’s lively and learned book, which shows how Britain’s history has always been shaped by cultural, economic and political developments in Europe.
And The Weak Suffer What They Must? Europe, Austerity and the Threat to Global Stability, by Yanis Varoufakis, Bodley Head, RRP£16.99/ Nation Books, RRP$27.99
Varoufakis, the dashing former Greek finance minister, has emerged as a hero of the anti-austerity left since his confrontational effort to reject the austerity policies imposed on Greece. But he is also an academic economist — so this book is part anecdote, part polemic and part a closely argued and interesting critique of the flaws in the design of the European single currency.