Naples Council on World Affairs


NCWA would like to invite you to the following event below.


Discussing books authored by our speakers

Our next NCWA book club meeting, last one of the season, has been rescheduled for March 27, 2017 at 1:30 PM at which time we’ll discuss, This Brave New World: India, China and the United States by Anji ManuelAmazon says, in the next decade and a half, China and India will become two of the world’s indispensable powers—whether they rise peacefully or not. During that time, Asia will surpass the combined strength of North America and Europe in economic might, population size, and military spending.  Both India and China will have vetoes over many international decisions, from climate change to global trade, human rights, and business standards. Click on title above to read more. 


It’s an important book on an important subject. Amazon rated this book 5 stars, 287 pages of text and published May 10, 2016.  It was discussed on C-Span2, and reviewed in the Wall Street Journal. Click on the links to view and read. 


We’ll meet at the Stratford, 5601 Turtle Bay Drive, Naples, FL 34108 (our usual location). You do not have to register to attend, just show up.  


The entire book schedule for the season is shown below. 




Bill Korstad

Naples Council on World Affairs Book Club



Hope to see you there. 




Bill Korstad

Naples Council on World Affairs Book Club



Next meeting Date:

Monday, March 27, 2017 at 1:30 PM

Meeting Location:

Stratford Room at The Stratford, 5601 Turtle Bay Drive in Pelican Bay

Book Discussed:

This Brave New World: India, China, and the United States  by Anji Manuel         


Bill Korstad - 303-887-7116








NCWA Book Club 2016-17


October 19, 2016

Vanguard of the Imam: Religion, Politics, and Iran's Revolutionary Guards by Afshon Ostovar, 

Iran's Revolutionary Iran's Revolutionary Guards are one of the most important forces in the Middle East today. As the appointed defender of Iran's revolution, the Guards have evolved into a pillar of the Islamic Republic and the spearhead of its influence. Their sway has spread across the Middle East, where the Guards have overseen loyalist support to Bashar al-Assad in Syria and been a staunch backer in Iraq's war against ISIS-bringing its own troops, Lebanon's Hezbollah, and Shiite militias to the fight. Links to terrorism, human rights abuses, and the suppression of popular democracy have shrouded the Revolutionary Guards in controversy.  In spite of their prominence, the Guards remain poorly understood to outside observers. In Vanguard of the Imam, Afshon Ostovar has written the first comprehensive history of the organization. Situating the rise of the Guards in the larger contexts of Shiite Islam, modern Iranian history, and international affairs, Ostovar takes a multifaceted approach in demystifying the organization and detailing its evolution since 1979. Politics, power, and religion collide in this story, wherein the Revolutionary Guards transform from a rag-tag militia established in the midst of revolutionary upheaval into a military and covert force with a global reach. Rated 5 stars by Amazon, 320 pages, published April 2016. Click on title to read more.


November 14, 2016 

The Pivot: The Future of American Statecraft in Asia by Kurt Campbell.

There is a quiet drama playing out in American foreign policy far from the dark contours of upheaval in the Middle East and South Asia and the hovering drone attacks of the war on terror. The United States is in the midst of a substantial and long-term national project, which is proceeding in fits and starts, to reorient its foreign policy to the East. The central tenet of this policy shift, aka the Pivot, is that the United States will need to do more with and in the Asia-Pacific hemisphere to help revitalize its own economy, to realize the full potential of the region's dramatic innovation, and to keep the peace in the world's most dynamic region where the lion's share of the history of the twenty-first century will be written. Amazon rated 4½ stars, 432 pages, published June 16, 2016. Click on title to read more.


- The book's author Kurt Campbell is rumored to be considered for a top post in Hillary Clinton’s administration should she be elected president.

- NCWA speaker November 14th is Jeremy Haft on “China on the Global Stage"

- Great Decisions topic #2 is "The Truth about Trade, Jobs and Politics" (written by Jeremy Haft)

- Great Decisions topic #3 is "Navies and Sovereignty: China and the United States in the South China Sea"


December 12, 2016

A Rage for Order: The Middle East in Turmoil, from Tahrir Square to ISIS  by Robert F. Worth

In 2011, a wave of revolution spread through the Middle East as protesters demanded an end to tyranny, corruption, and economic decay. From Egypt to Yemen, a generation of young Arabs insisted on a new ethos of common citizenship. Five years later, their utopian aspirations have taken on a darker cast as old divides reemerge and deepen. In one country after another, brutal terrorists and dictators have risen to the top.  A Rage for Order is the first work of literary journalism to track the tormented legacy of what was once called the Arab Spring. In the style of V. S. Naipaul and Lawrence Wright, the distinguished New York Times correspondent Robert F. Worth brings the history of the present to life through vivid stories and portraits. Amazon rated 4½ stars, 272 pages, published April 26, 2016. Recommended by Michael Finkel.  Also reviewed in the New York TimesClick on title to read more.


- Reviewed in the New York Times.

- NCWA speaker on December 5th is Steven Cook on "Turkey’s Lost Democracy"

- NCWA speaker on February 3rd is Danielle Pletka on "An Overview of Today’s Middle East"

- NCWA speaker on February 20th is David S. Rohde on "Inside the Strained U.S.- Saudi Alliance"

- Great Decision Topic #4 is "Saudi Arabia in Transition”

- Great Decisions topic #7 is "Afghanistan and Pakistan”


January 9, 2017

Mission Failure: America and the World in the Post-Cold War Era

The end of the Cold War led to a dramatic and fundamental change in the foreign policy of the United States. In Mission Failure, Michael Mandelbaum, one of America's leading foreign-policy thinkers, provides an original, provocative, and definitive account of the ambitious but deeply flawed post-Cold War efforts to promote American values and American institutions throughout the world. Amazon rating 4½ stars, 504 pages of which 383 pages are text, published April 12, 2016. Recommended by Bob Haffa. Click on title to read more. 


- NCWA speakers on January 9th are General John R Allen and Dr. Michael O’Hanlon: "Challenges for the New Administration"

- Most Great Decisions topics have to do with our foreign policy


February 6, 2017

The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of American Empire by Stephen Kinzer

How should the United States act in the world? Americans cannot decide. Sometimes we burn with righteous anger, launching foreign wars and deposing governments. Then we retreat―until the cycle begins again.  No matter how often we debate this question, none of what we say is original. Every argument is a pale shadow of the first and greatest debate, which erupted more than a century ago. Its themes resurface every time Americans argue whether to intervene in a foreign country.  Unrated by Amazon, 160 pages, Published January 24, 2017.  Recommended by Mimi Gregory. Perhaps leader in the season as it is not yet published. Click on title to read more. Mr. Kinzer will speak to NCWA sometime in February.

Considerations: Mr. Kinzer will speak to NCWA sometime in February. 

March 6, 2017

Gangster Warlords: Drug Dollars, Killing Fields, and the New Politics of Latin America by Ioan Grillo

In a ranch south of Texas, the man known as The Executioner dumps five hundred body parts in metal barrels. In Brazil's biggest city, a mysterious prisoner orders hit-men to gun down forty-one police officers and prison guards in two days. In southern Mexico, a meth maker is venerated as a saint while enforcing Old Testament justice on his enemies. A new kind of criminal kingpin has arisen: part CEO, part terrorist, and part rock star, unleashing guerrilla attacks, strong-arming governments, and taking over much of the world's trade in narcotics, guns, and humans. What they do affects you now--from the gas in your car, to the gold in your jewelry, to the tens of thousands of Latin Americans calling for refugee status in the U.S. Gangster Warlords is the first definitive account of the crime wars now wracking Central and South America and the Caribbean, regions largely abandoned by the U.S. after the Cold War.  Rated 4½ stars by Amazon, 384 pages, published Jan. 2016. Recommended by Stratfor.  Highly recommended book on a topic we largely ignore. Click on title to read more.


- NCWA speaker on March 9th is Cynthia Watson: "Latin America’s Failing Democracies”

- Great Decision topic #6 is “A new Political Era in Latin America: From Ideology to Pragmatism"


March 27, 2017

This Brave New World: India, China and the United States by Anji Manuel.

In the next decade and a half, China and India will become two of the world’s indispensable powers—whether they rise peacefully or not. During that time, Asia will surpass the combined strength of North America and Europe in economic might, population size, and military spending. Both India and China will have vetoes over many international decisions, from climate change to global trade, human rights, and business standards.

Amazon rated 5 stars, 368 pages, published May 10, 2016. Recommended by Bill Korstad - highly rated book on an important subject. Click on title to read more.


- Discussed on C-Span2, and reviewed in the Wall Street Journal.

- NCWA speaker November 14th is Jeremy Haft on “China on the Global Stage"

- Great Decisions topic #2 is "The Truth about Trade, Jobs and Politics" (written by Jeremy Haft)

- Great Decisions topic #3 is "Navies and Sovereignty: China and the United States in the South China Sea”




Other book suggestions not on the list but may be of interest.


Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle Over Islam is Reshaping the World by Shadi Hamid 

In Islamic Exceptionalism, Brookings Institution scholar and acclaimed author Shadi Hamid offers a novel and provocative argument on how Islam is, in fact, "exceptional" in how it relates to politics, with profound implications for how we understand the future of the Middle East. Divides among citizens aren't just about power but are products of fundamental disagreements over the very nature and purpose of the modern nation state―and the vexing problem of religion’s role in public life. Hamid argues for a new understanding of how Islam and Islamism shape politics by examining different models of reckoning with the problem of religion and state, including the terrifying―and alarmingly successful―example of ISIS. Amazon rating 4 stars, 320 pages, published June 7, 2016. Recommended by Bill Korstad. Click on title to read more.


Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari 

From a renowned historian comes a groundbreaking narrative of humanity’s creation and evolution—a #1 international bestseller—that explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be “human.”  One hundred thousand years ago, at least six different species of humans inhabited Earth. Yet today there is only one—homo sapiens. What happened to the others? And what may happen to us?  Most books about the history of humanity pursue either a historical or a biological approach, but Dr. Yuval Noah Harari breaks the mold with this highly original book that begins about 70,000 years ago with the appearance of modern cognition. From examining the role evolving humans have played in the global ecosystem to charting the rise of empires, Sapiens integrates history and science to reconsider accepted narratives, connect past developments with contemporary concerns, and examine specific events within the context of larger ideas. 4½ stars, 464 pages, published January 2015.  Click on title to read more.


The $650 Billion Bargain: The Case for Modest Growth in America's Defense Budget by Michael O’Hanlon 

The United States spends a lot of money on defense—$607 billion in the current fiscal year. But Brookings national security scholar Michael O'Hanlon argues that is roughly the right amount given the overall size of the national economy and continuing U.S. responsibilities around the world. If anything, he says spending should increase modestly under the next president, remaining near 3 percent of gross domestic product.  Amazon rating 4 stars, 160 pages, published August 23, 2016.  Recommended by Bob Haffa. Bob says a logical substitute for his book might be his article (with Petraeus) on the American military in the September-October issue of Foreign Affairs. Click on title to read more.


My Journey at the Nuclear Brink by William J Perry (Sec Defense 1994-97)

My Journey at the Nuclear Brink is a continuation of William J. Perry's efforts to keep the world safe from a nuclear catastrophe. It tells the story of his coming of age in the nuclear era, his role in trying to shape and contain it, and how his thinking has changed about the threat these weapons pose.  In a remarkable career, Perry has dealt firsthand with the changing nuclear threat. Decades of experience and special access to top-secret knowledge of strategic nuclear options have given Perry a unique, and chilling, vantage point from which to conclude that nuclear weapons endanger our security rather than securing it. Click on title to read more. Amazon rated 4 ½ stars, 276 pages, published November 11, 2015. Recommended by Michal Finkel. Reviewed in the NY Review of Books, July 14, 2016 issue. Click on title to read more.


Connectography: Mapping the Future of Global Civilization by Parag Khanna.

Connectivity is the most revolutionary force of the twenty-first century. Mankind is reengineering the planet, investing up to ten trillion dollars per year in transportation, energy, and communications infrastructure linking the world’s burgeoning megacities together. This has profound consequences for geopolitics, economics, demographics, the environment, and social identity. Connectivity, not geography, is our destiny. In Connectography, visionary strategist Parag Khanna travels from Ukraine to Iran, Mongolia to North Korea, Pakistan to Nigeria, and across the Arctic Circle and the South China Sea to explain the rapid and unprecedented changes affecting every part of the planet. He shows how militaries are deployed to protect supply chains as much as borders, and how nations are less at war over territory than engaged in tugs-of-war over pipelines, railways, shipping lanes, and Internet cables. The new arms race is to connect to the most markets—a race China is now winning, having launched a wave of infrastructure investments to unite Eurasia around its new Silk Roads. The United States can only regain ground by fusing with its neighbors into a super-continental North American Union of shared resources and prosperity.  Amazon rated 4 stars, 496 pages, published April 19, 2016. Recommended by Bill Korstad - highly rated work by a bestselling, visionary author, but maybe too long. Click on title to read more. 


Continental Shift: A Journey into Africa's Changing Fortunes by Kevin Bloom & Richard Poplak

Two South African journalists take a meandering nine-year trip through 16 African countries to see for themselves how the continent is rapidly changing. The book quickly moves beyond the media tropes of poverty and misery to show a dynamic continent moving in several directions at once. From the limits of the nation-state in the Central African Republic to the rising cultural power of Nigeria, the blessed curse of mineral resources in the Democratic Republic of Congo to the wave of Chinese investment in Botswana, the authors cover a lot of ground to underscore just how important Africa's future is for the world. - Stratfor.  Rated 4½ stars by Amazon, 448 pages, published April 2016, recommended by Stratfor. Click on title to read more.


The Industries of the Future by Alec J. Ross,

Leading innovation expert Alec Ross explains what’s next for the world: the advances and stumbling blocks that will emerge in the next ten years, and how we can navigate them.  While Alec Ross was working as Senior Advisor for Innovation to the Secretary of State, he traveled to forty-one countries, exploring the latest advances coming out of every continent. From startup hubs in Kenya to R&D labs in South Korea, Ross has seen what the future holds.  In The Industries of the Future, Ross shows us what changes are coming in the next ten years, highlighting the best opportunities for progress and explaining why countries thrive or sputter. He examines the specific fields that will most shape our economic future, including robotics, cybersecurity, the commercialization of genomics, the next step for big data, and the coming impact of digital technology on money and markets. Amazon rated 4 ½ stars, 320 pages, published Feb. 2016, Recommended by Stratfor. Click on title to read more.


In Europe's Shadow by Robert D. Kaplan

Robert Kaplan first visited Romania in the 1970s, when he was a young journalist and the country was a bleak Communist backwater. It was one of the darkest corners of Europe, but few Westerners were paying attention. What ensued was a lifelong obsession with a critical, often overlooked country—a country that, today, is key to understanding the current threat that Russia poses to Europe. In Europe’s Shadow is a vivid blend of memoir, travelogue, journalism, and history, a masterly work thirty years in the making—the story of a journalist coming of age, and a country struggling to do the same. Through the lens of one country, Kaplan examines larger questions of geography, imperialism, the role of fate in international relations, the Cold War, the Holocaust, and more. Here Kaplan illuminates the fusion of the Latin West and the Greek East that created Romania, the country that gave rise to Ion Antonescu, Hitler’s chief foreign accomplice during World War II, and the country that was home to the most brutal strain of Communism under Nicolae Ceaușescu. Amazon rated 4 stars, Feb. 2016, 336 pages, recommended by Stratfor and Bill Korstad.  I’t’s fascinating book by one of my favorite authors and I’ve read it.  But it may not be for everyone.  Sometimes Kaplan can by challenging to read but it’s apiece of familiar geography  for me. Click on title to read more.


History of the Cuban Revolution by A Chomsky  

A History of the Cuban Revolution presents a concise socio-historical account of the Cuban Revolution of 1959, an event that continues to spark debate 50 years later.  

         •  Balances a comprehensive overview of the political and economic events of the revolution with a look at the revolution’s social impact

         •  Provides a lively, on-the-ground look at the lives of ordinary people

         •  Features both U.S. and Cuban perspectives to provide a complete and well-rounded look at the revolution and its repercussions

         •  Encourages students to understand history through the viewpoint of individuals living it

         •  Selected as a 2011 Outstanding Academic Title by CHOICE

Amazon rated 4 stars, published Nov, 2010, 228 pages. Recommended by Michael Finkel. Click on title to read more.


Sugar in the Blood: A Family’s Story of Slavery and Empire by Andrea Stuart’s 

In the late 1630s, lured by the promise of the New World, Andrea Stuart’s earliest known maternal ancestor, George Ashby, set sail from England to settle in Barbados. He fell into the life of a sugar plantation owner by mere chance, but by the time he harvested his first crop, a revolution was fully under way: the farming of sugar cane, and the swiftly increasing demands for sugar worldwide, would not only lift George Ashby from abject poverty and shape the lives of his descendants, but it would also bind together ambitious white entrepreneurs and enslaved black workers in a strangling embrace. Stuart uses her own family story—from the seventeenth century through the present—as the pivot for this epic tale of migration, settlement, survival, slavery and the making of the Americas. Amazon rated 4 ½ stars, 384 pages, October 2013. Recommended by Michael Finkel. Click on title to read more


Haiti: The Aftershocks of History by Laurent DuBois. 

Even before the devastating 2010 earthquake, Haiti was known as a benighted place of poverty and corruption, blamed by many for its own wretchedness. But as acclaimed historian Laurent Dubois demonstrates, Haiti's troubled present can only be understood by examining its complex past. The country's difficulties are inextricably rooted in its founding revolution---the only successful slave revolt in the history of the world; the hostility that this rebellion generated among the surrounding colonial powers; and the intense struggle within Haiti itself to define its newfound freedom and realize its promise. 

Revealing what lies behind the familiar moniker "the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere," this indispensable book illuminates the foundations on which a new Haiti might yet emerge.  Amazon rated 4½ stars, 448 pages, published January 2013. Recommended by Michael Finkel. Click on title to read more


An Idea, and Bullets: A Rice Roots Exploration of Why No French, American, or South Vietnamese General Could Ever Have Brought Victory in Vietnam by William Haponski. This book on the Vietnam War is unique and critically timely. The author commanded a large armored cavalry task force in Vietnam and, having lost wonderful young men, needed to answer the question: What was this decades-long war about--really about? The answer is that it was about independence and unification. Vietnamese had struggled for 2,000 years to throw off the foreign yoke, and, since the end of World War II it was also about unification of the three parts of their country into one Vietnam. Independence and unification--they would not give up the idea, no matter what the sacrifice, no matter how long the struggle. Military historian Lieutenant General Dave R. Palmer said, "Haponski has examined the war exhaustively for half a century, at every level from his first-hand experience to post-doctoral research. 5 stars, 582 pages, January 27, 2016 Recommended by Michael Finkel. Click on title to read more


Still more suggestions:

- The Invention of Russia: From Gorbachev’s Freedom to Putin’s War by Arkady Ostrovsky.

- The Fall of the Ottomans, the Great War of the Middle East, by Eugene Rogan

- Islamic Exceptionalism by Shadi Hamid

- The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander


If you have any comments or questions, please write of call.

Facilitator: Bill Korstad - 303-887-7116








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