The Book Club is the newest addition to the World Affairs Council of Hilton Head (WACHH) program offerings. The Book Club presents an opportunity for us all to learn more broadly and deeply about both world affairs and domestic politics, to engage in stimulating discussions, and to make new friendships.
The Book Club is free and open to WACHH members and the public, but advance registration is required. Registration for each book club discussion will open one month in advance and is limited to 35 participants.
The Book Club meets the second Thursday of each month from 4:30 to 6:00 pm at The Island Rec Center Board Room, 20 Wilborn Rd, Hilton Head Island (next to the High school).
Click HERE to download the Book Club Flyer for more information.
December 14, 2023
How Civil Wars Start, and How to Stop Them
by Barbara Walter
“Required reading for anyone invested in preserving our 246-year experiment in self-government.”—The New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice)
Leading political scientist Barbara F. Walter has spent her career studying civil conflict in places like Iraq, Ukraine, and Sri Lanka as well as the dramatic rise in violent extremism around the globe. Over the last two decades, the number of active civil wars around the world has almost doubled. Walter reveals the warning signs—where wars tend to start, who initiates them, what triggers them—and why some countries tip over into conflict while others remain stable. Drawing on the latest international research and lessons from over twenty countries, Walter identifies the crucial risk factors, from democratic backsliding to factionalization and the politics of resentment. A civil war today won’t look like America in the 1860s, Russia in the 1920s, or Spain in the 1930s. It will begin with sporadic acts of violence and terror, accelerated by social media. It will sneak up on a country and leave citizens wondering how they could have been so blind. In this urgent and insightful book, Walter redefines civil war for a new age, providing the framework we need to confront the danger we now face—and the knowledge to stop it before it’s too late. Registration opens one month in advance.
Recognized as a Best Books of the Year by Financial Times, The Times (UK), Esquire, Prospect (UK), The Sunday Times; and Winner Of The Global Policy Institute Award
January 11, 2024
Things are Never So Bad They Can’t Get Worse: Inside the Collapse of Venezuela
by William Neuman
"This shocking, definitive account of Venezuela's crumbling is driven by deep reporting, startling data and most of all, stunning humanity. Neuman draws on profound interviews and his deep knowledge of the country to starkly detail how the country got to where it is today." ―Newsweek
Venezuela has the largest oil reserve in the world―oil sits so close to the surface that it bubbles from the ground, and its gold and other mineral resources are abundant. Yet this country is in a perpetual crisis―with rolling blackouts, nearly worthless currency, uncertain supply of water and food, extreme poverty, and hospitals with no medicine. Twenty percent of the population has fled, creating the largest refugee exodus in the world, rivaling only war-torn Syria’s crisis. Venezuela’s collapse affects all of Latin America, as well as the United States and the international community. Things Are Never So Bad That They Can’t Get Worse provides a nuanced and deeply-reported account of the collapse of Venezuela, and what it could mean for the rest of the world. It also provides a heartfelt reflection of the country’s great beauty and vibrancy―and the energy, passion, and humor of its people, even under the most challenging circumstances.
February 8, 2024
Mythologies Without End: The US, Israel, and the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1917-2020 by Jerome Slate
"Slater has done a brilliant job of exposing and demolishing the many myths that shape the discourse in the West about the Israel-Palestine conflict. What makes Slater's book so powerful, is that he cares greatly about Israel. . . and believes that facing up to the truth about the past is in Israel's interest." — John J. Mearsheimer, University of Chicago
The history of modern Israel and the Israel–Palestinian/Arab conflict is a fiercely contested subject as ideologically-charged narratives and counter-narratives battle for dominance not just in Israel itself but throughout the world. The conflict has continued for more than 100 years making it one of the world’s most important, and at times, most dangerous unresolved international conflicts. In Mythologies Without End, Jerome Slater examines the history of this conflict from its onset at the end of WWI through the Netanyahu era, and analyzes myths surrounding the US relationship with Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that have prolonged the conflict and had devastating consequences to all of the involved parties. Slater argues that deconstructing the many mythologies is a necessary first step toward solving the Arab-Israeli conflict, and his book opens space for new approaches in hopes of spurring the policy changes needed to constructively end the conflict.
March 14, 2024
The Twilight Struggle: What the Cold War Teaches us about Great-Power Rivalry by Hal Brands
“If you want to know how America can win today's rivalries with Russia and China, read this book about how it triumphed in another twilight struggle: the Cold War.” — Stephen J. Hadley, national security adviser to President George W. Bush
America is entering an era of long-term great power competition with China and Russia that pits democracy against autocracy. Author Hal Brands, a leading historian and former Pentagon adviser, says we can expect a series of long and grinding contests most of which will be “twilight struggles” — hence the book’s title — because they happen “between the sunshine of peace and the darkness of war.” Brands argues that America should look to the history of the Cold War for lessons on how to succeed in the great-power rivalry of today, and provides an insightful historical analysis of the nearly 50-year Cold War between the US and Soviet Union, from the end of WWII to the collapse of the USSR. In this authoritative and influential book, The Twilight Struggle provides a guide to America’s successes and failures in the Cold War and their modern day relevance in understanding global power dynamics. With crisp prose and sharp analysis, Brand presents 12 lessons to be heeded today that include avoiding escalation, balancing strength with diplomacy, and understanding adversaries’ motivations.