HOLIDAY BOOKS, PART 2….Here’s the second batch of holiday book recommendations for politics and current affairs geeks:

From Ted Barlow of Crooked Timber

  • Embracing Defeat, by John Dower. “The story of the American occupation of Japan after WWII. Why was it so successful? A blog entry, column or magazine article would be likely to single out a reason (Overwhelming force? Japanese culture? MacArthur’s genius? Cooperation of the Emperor?) and use it to bludgeon one side of the contemporary debate. But life isn’t simple, and we can all use a good non-reductive whack on the head to remind us of that. Embracing Defeat is a terrific read about a fascinating, complex phenomena.

  • Wages of Guilt, by Ian Buruma. “An intelligent, unsparing look at the legacy of World War II in modern Japan and Germany. When your recent history ? your parents or grandparents ? is a universal synonym for evil, how do you deal with that? Can you be a normal country again? Japan and Germany have taken very different paths ? Germany’s crippling guilt and moral paralysis seem to have no sizeable Japanese counterpart.”

From Andy Rotherham of Eduwonk

  • The Great Influenza, by John M. Barry. “A compelling look at the 1918 outbreak of influenza. Not just a book about the horrors of what happened and the catastrophic death toll, but a story about human perseverance with some broader lessons. If you liked a book like Dana Preston’s Boxer Rebellion, you’ll like this. You get the individuals and the big story.”

  • Demosclrerosis, by Jonathan Rauch. “In this season of recriminations, Democrats could do a lot worse than re-read Demosclrerosis and think about an agenda that is truly people v. the powerful.”

  • Who’s In Charge Here, edited by Noel Epstein. “This is a great look at governance and policymaking in American K-12 education. Collectively the chapters by various experts show ? deliberately and inadvertently ? the enormous challenges of making policy in this area and actually moving the ball on reform.”

From Tacitus of

  • A Savage War of Peace, by Alistair Horne. “Alistair Horne is perhaps the preeminent English-language historian of France in the modern era. In none of his works does he shine more brightly than in this, his epic history of the Algerian War. More than a cautionary tale for the present era (Horne’s exposition makes brutally clear how this war, like so many guerrilla wars, can be militarily won and politically lost), it is also a gripping read. Narrative history doesn’t get this good often enough. This book is unforgivably difficult to obtain in the United States, so be prepared to resort to Amazon UK.”

  • Eleni, by Nicholas Gage. “The wrenching true story of a Greek mother who sacrifices her life to save her children from Communist guerrillas ? and her son’s quest for revenge ? is too often viewed as a literary relic of the Cold War. It is a timeless tale of war and love that deserves to be widely read.”

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