I spend a lot of time with books. I have written a few of them. More importantly, I read a lot of them. Usually two non-fiction books a week.

A few years ago, a friend took a look at the list of books on my iPad/Kindle and asked why I didn’t share my thoughts about what I was reading. She was right in suggesting that I should. However, I didn’t have a way of doing so other than posting reviews on Amazon and, now, Goodreads.

With the launch of this website, I now have a way of writing short reviews of books in comparative politics and peacebuilding, especially those that are written from a systems or complexity approach and/or that focus on wicked problems. As with Amazon, I will only review books I really liked and recommend reading. Only giving five star reviews hurts my rating on Amazon, but that’s not an issue here. I will add titles as I read them and, when time permits, add others from my “backlist.”

As with everything else on this site, I’d welcome suggestion(s), especially if they come with reasons why your choice(s) should be at the top of my very large virtual stack of books to read.

To read these short summaries and reviews, just hover over the book’s image below and click.


Prosperity Paradox

No one knows more about disruptive innovation than Clayton Christensen. I’ve been reading is books for years, but this is the first time I’ve actually written about his work because _The Prosperity Paradox_is his first book that directly takes on the kinds of issues I worry about professionally. While prosperity is not always a key to understanding Peacebuilding, the way he describes the role of innovation in creating a wealthier society is filled with implications for peacebuilding especially as we consider creating a movement in support of our efforts.


Challenging Conflict

In her column, Complicating the Narrative, Amanda Ripley referred to Gary Friedman and Jack Himmelstein's book Challenging Conflict. Although I knew about their ideas about transformative conflict resolution, I hadn't read the book, so I dashed out and bought it. It lays out an intriguing approach to mediation that could and should be useful to all of us in the conflict resolution and peacebuiiding worlds. Although they call it an understanding based model of conflict resolution, it goes much farther.


Smartest Kids

I bought this book when it came out because I though it would help me with the most recent edition of my comparative politics textbook. When I realized she did not deal with any of the countries I covered other than the US, I put it down. Reluctantly, because it was off to a great start. Then, a friend told me about an article she had written journalism and conflict resolution, so I figured I'd go back and finish Smartest Kids. I wish I hadn't put it down.



Steven Johnson is one of those rare authors who can take advanced scientific research and turn it into prose that non-scientific readers can understand and then use in their own lives. He can pull that off because he not only has the training to read the scientific literature, but he is a master story teller. He has done it again in Farighted. In it, he helps us see some old and some new tools that help us make decisions on matters that will affect our lives far into the future--hence the title.