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review 2017-08-11 00:39
Spy Schools: How the CIA, FBI, and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit America’s Universities
Spy Schools: How the CIA, FBI, and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit America's Universities - Daniel Golden

I received this book via LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program in exchange for an honest review.

 

The openness of American colleges and universities for thought and research is seen by academics as the keystone to higher education.  However Daniel Golden writes in Spy Schools: How the CIA, FBI, and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit America’s Universities this is seen as opportunities to recruit agents and cultivate operatives as well steal technological innovations both by our own intelligence agencies and those across the globe.

 

Golden divided his book into foreign and domestic intelligence agencies exploitation of American universities.  The first focused how foreign agencies, mainly the Chinese, have been exploiting American universities need of prestige and tuition money to gain partnerships between Chinese universities and their American counterparts resulting in an exchange of students and professors.  Yet the most important focus of Golden’s investigation was on how the openness and collaboration within American university labs opens up opportunities for individuals to funnel research, including those paid by the U.S. government and American companies, to their home country to be exploit by their own government or to patient and start up a business.  The second half was on the complicated relationship between American intelligence agencies and universities, some of who encourage a relationship and those that do not.  The aspect of conflict between secrecy and openness is seen throughout the latter half of the book with 9/11 playing a pivotal role in each side’s views.  Unlike the first half of the book, this section is seen over the course of 60 years compared to more near 2000 but in a way to show that past is prologue.

 

As an investigative journalist, Golden uses extensive research and a multitude of interviews in giving a full history and the scale of a front in the global spy game that many in the United States haven’t been aware of.   Unfortunately for Golden the timing of this book while on the one hand current and on the other potentially dated.  Nearly all his interviews take place no later than 2015, but since the election of Donald Trump with a seemingly nativist groundswell behind him and student demonstrations against conservative speakers might have begun a fundamental shift that could drastically change how both American and foreign intelligence services are seen on American universities especially as a post-9/11 “tolerance” on campus changes to hostility.

 

Even though the subject Daniel Golden has written about could be in the midst of a sudden sea change, Spy Schools is still a book to read in at least to understand an important part of the global spy game.  Although no up-to-date, the recent and long-term history is significant for anyone who is concerned about national security and foreign intervention in American affairs.

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review 2017-06-01 06:19
Podcast #50 is up!
Radicalism and Reputation: The Career of Bronterre O'Brien - Michael J. Turner

My latest podcast is up on the New Books Network website! In it I interview Michael J. Turner ot his new biography of James Bronterre O'Brien, the 19th English radical writer who was a key figure in the Chartist movement. Enjoy!

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review 2017-05-18 15:41
My forty-fifth podcast is up!
‘Guilty Women’, Foreign Policy, and Appeasement in Inter-War Britain - Julie V. Gottlieb

My latest podcast is up on the New Books Network website! In it I interview Julie Gottlieb about her recent book on the role of women in the British appeasement debates of the 1930s. Enjoy!

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review 2017-04-28 18:12
Women and appeasement
‘Guilty Women’, Foreign Policy, and Appeasement in Inter-War Britain - Julie V. Gottlieb

All too often, foreign policy has been treated as though it were exclusively the concern of men, with women usually seen either as passive participants or as secondary support. Breaking that paradigm often requires broadening the view of foreign policy formulation to take into account other, less tangible factors, such as political rhetoric, public opinion, and social encounters in which women were often able to exert influence on international relations. One such example of this was in the appeasement debates in Britain in the 1930s, in which, as Julie Gottlieb reveals in this book, women played a significant role in both the advocacy for appeasement and in the efforts to urge a stronger stance towards Nazi Germany.

 

Gottlieb's examination is divisible into three areas. The first is in the role women played in public activism. This was an area in which women enjoyed their greatest prominence, as their participation in such activities as peace movements and refugee aid organizations had long provided them with an entrée into public discussions regarding foreign affairs. By contrast their participation in electoral politics was more novel, yet here Gottlieb describes the role that women played as well, not just in terms of elected officials such as Nancy Astor, but others such as Annie Chamberlain who, while not a Member of Parliament nonetheless enjoyed a degree of public prominence and played an important role as a campaigner for her husband, Neville. Their presence proved more than symbolic, and they were seen as important conduits to the millions of recently enfranchised women, whose votes now had to be factored into the political calculus of any decision.

 

By expanding the analysis of the participants in the arguments over appeasement, Gottlieb has provided a long-overdue correction to a traditionally blinkered understanding of the participants in the contemporary debates over appeasement. While her writing can be a little dense due to her over-reliance upon jargon, she nonetheless provides an invaluable study of the development of British foreign policy in the 1930s. No future study of the subject can afford to ignore the fresh perspective she has brought to it, and hopefully it can serve as a model for similar studies that can restore women to an area of history from which that have been unjustly left out for too long.

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review 2017-03-14 21:56
Scars of the Independence
Scars of Independence: America's Violent Birth - Holger Hoock

I received this book via LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers in exchange for an honest review.

 

The quaint, romanticized version of the American Revolution that many have grown up with through popular history and school curriculum is not the real life story that those living during those years experienced.  In Scars of Independence, Holger Hoock looks past the good versus bad and underdog narratives so prevalent today to reveal the multifaceted struggle and very violent history of the American Revolutionary War from all its participants.

 

Hoock frames the American Revolution as not just a colonial rebellion, but first and foremost a civil war in which the dividing line of loyalties split family.  The Patriot-Loyalist violence, either physical or political, began long before and lasted long after the military conflict.  Once the fighting actually began, both the Americans and the British debated amongst themselves on the appropriate use of the acceptable violence connected to 18th century warfare and on the treatment of prisoners.  While both sides thought about their conduct to those in Europe, the Native Americans were another matter and the violence they were encouraged to inflict or was inflicted upon them was some of the most brutal of the war.  But through all of these treads, Hoock emphasizes one point over and over, that the American Patriots continually won the “propaganda” war not only in the press on their side of the Atlantic but also in Europe and even Great Britain.

 

One of the first things a reader quickly realizes is that Hoock’s descriptions of some of the events of the American Revolution remind us of “modern-day” insurgencies and playbooks of modern terrorists, completely shattering the popular view of the nation’s birth.  Hoock’s writing is gripping for those interested in popular history and his research is thought-provoking for scholars.  Another point in Hoock’s favor is his birth outside the Anglo-American historical sphere in Germany, yet his background in British history and on-off research fellowships in the United States has given him a unique perspective to bring this piece of Anglo-American history out to be consumed, debated, and thought upon.

 

Scars of Independence: America’s Violent Birth is a fascinating, intriguing, thought-provoking book on the under-reported events of the American Revolutionary War in contrast to the view of the war from popular history.  Holger Hoock gives his readers an easy, yet detailed filled book that will help change their perspective on the founding of the United States by stripping the varnish away to reveal the whole picture.

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