Books for the Holidays

With the holidays already upon us, here is a much delayed list of recommended reads for the public diplomatist (?) in you or yours as well as related reading. Reviews are after the fold and unfortunately very brief… 

groundswellGroundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies (get the Kindle version here)

Required reading for any “2.0+” engagement. Aimed at the corporate type, it is readily applied to the international engager. The “groundswell” is “a social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other, rather from traditional institutions like corporations [or in our world, governments].” Key quote to live by from early in the book: “You can’t take something off the Internet. That’s like trying to take pee out of a swimming pool.” The section on HP’s corporate blogs could be about the UK’s Foreign Commonwealth Office and the US Army’s Combined Arms Center blogs. Read it and find the transferrables to public diplomacy / strategic communication.

cfa3 Change for America: A Progressive Blueprint for the 44th President (Get the Kindle version here)

I haven’t read this book yet. Actually, that’s not quite true, I’ve read the chapter in which I’m quoted. I won’t say which chapter that is, but it should be apparent. This 704 page doorstop has around sixty chapters, each recommending, well, change for America. This should make for interesting reading when it comes out although I don’t know when that will be as doesn’t list a publication date.


hpdRoutledge Handbook of Public Diplomacy (this is the $44 paperback not the hard cover)

No real surprise here. The paperback is now available on Amazon. Buy it and read the 29 most excellent chapters (including mine) that offer complimentary and even contradictory views of the “fuzzy” practice of public diplomacy. Again, have your highlighter and pen at the ready when you read it.


ajeThe Al Jazeera Effect: How the New Global Media Are Reshaping World Politics

Phil Seib’s book is a valuable contribution in the exploration of the global information environment. Increased access and availability to information has the ability to transform and manipulate new “imagined communities” to create “virtual states” shaped by modern nationalism that can be voluntary, selective, and even hierarchical.


cwusia The Cold War and the United States Information Agency: American Propaganda and Public Diplomacy, 1945-1989

A encyclopedic review of USIA told in Nick’s fluid style of the historian he is. See a review here.



Losing Arab Hearts and Minds: The Coalition, Al Jazeera and Muslim Public Opinion

Steve Tatham provides an excellent outsider’s “insider” view of the Coalition’s engagement with the Arab media, or rather their intentional non-engagement, with Arab media in the Iraq War. This should be required reading in OSD, those interested in (and teaching) strategic communication, and anyone interested in public diplomacy. See my review here.


wfwWired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century

Peter Singer enters the next step in the logical progression from Private Military Firms to child soldiers to Unmanned Warfare. To be released January 22, this is a fascinating read on the history, present, and future of robots in war, including their impact.



wnd War and Diplomacy: From World War I to the War on Terrorism

This edited volume provides interesting insight into the influences on “traditional” diplomacy of war. The impact of public opinion for example is too often ignored when in fact it very often shaped policy. One of my favorite observations in the book comes from the chapter on the evolution of U.S. diplomacy and strategy in the Vietnam War:

Containment policy played down the role of diplomacy because the Soviets were seen far more as an ideological threat than as a normal geopolitical power. In fact diplomacy had “almost no place in containment policy that emerged after 1945” as the Soviets were considered fanatics.

wmp Weapons of Mass Persuasion: Strategic Communication to Combat Violent Extremism

Steve Corman, of COMOPS, along with Angela Trethewey and Bud Goodall, put together an insightful series of analyses on, as the subtitle says, strategic communication to combat violent extremism. Recommended reading.

Other worthwhile books on public diplomacy:

Related Suggestions:

2 thoughts on “Books for the Holidays

  1. Another great book in the field of public diplomacy is Dr. Mike Waller’s The Public Diplomacy Reader
    The Public Diplomacy Reader is a 500-page compendium of intellectual and practical tools for the cross-cultural communicator. Designed for students, diplomats, military officers, intelligence professionals and other practitioners, the Reader is meant to be used as an instrument and guide in waging the war of ideas.

  2. Jim,You’re right. Actually, Mike’s book was on an earlier version of the list but I removed him to a part II that hasn’t been published yet. It is another required resource. The books on the above list are new / newish.

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