What We Are Reading Today: To Build a Better World

Updated 01 October 2019

What We Are Reading Today: To Build a Better World

Authors: Philip Zelikow and Condoleezza Rice

Timed for the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, To Build a Better World is an authoritative depiction of contemporary statecraft. 
Two of America’s leading scholar-diplomats, Philip Zelikow and Condoleezza Rice, have combed sources in several languages, interviewed leading figures, and drawn on their own firsthand experience to bring to life the choices that molded the contemporary world.
Beginning in the late 1970s and carrying into the present, they focus on the momentous period between 1988 and 1992, when an entire world system changed, states broke apart, and societies were transformed.
“It lets readers in on the strategies and negotiations, nerve-racking risks, last-minute decisions, and deep deliberations behind the dramas that changed the face of Europe — and the world — forever,” said a review in goodreads.com.
In a review for The New York Times, James Traub said: “In the run-up to the war in Iraq, Rice ignored warnings from the same veterans of 1989 whom she praises so lavishly in To Build a Better World.”


What We Are Reading Today: Governing the Urban in China and India by Xuefei Ren

Updated 10 July 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Governing the Urban in China and India by Xuefei Ren

Urbanization is rapidly overtaking China and India, the two most populous countries in the world. One-sixth of humanity now lives in either a Chinese or Indian city. 

This transformation has unleashed enormous pressures on land use, housing, and the environment. Despite the stakes, the workings of urban governance in China and India remain obscure and poorly understood.

In this book, Xuefei Ren explores how China and India govern their cities and how their different styles of governance produce inequality and exclusion. Drawing upon historical-comparative analyses and extensive fieldwork (in Beijing, Guangzhou, Wukan, Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata), Ren investigates the ways that Chinese and Indian cities manage land acquisition, slum clearance, and air pollution. 

She discovers that the two countries address these issues through radically different approaches. In China, urban governance centers on territorial institutions, such as hukou and the cadre evaluation system. 

In India, urban governance centers on associational politics, encompassing contingent alliances formed among state actors, the private sector, and civil society groups. Ren traces the origins of territorial and associational forms of governance to late imperial China and precolonial India. She then shows how these forms have evolved to shape urban growth and residents’ struggles today.

As the number of urban residents in China and India reaches beyond a billion, Governing the Urban in China and India makes clear that the development of cities in these two nations will have profound consequences well beyond their borders.