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Every two years, the Estoril Conferences distinguishes a major piece of written work that has contributed with new analysis and original thought about the issues inherent to globalization, helping the world better understand its global relevant risks and collective action problems.

The Shortlist for this year’s Estoril Global Issues Distinguished Book Prize include:

 

CAST AWAY, Charlotte McDonald-Gibson

“Charlotte McDonald-Gibson has spent years reporting on every aspect of Europe’s refugee crisis, and Cast Away offers  a vivid glimpse into the personal dilemmas, pressures, choices and hopes that lie beneath the headlines. Here, we meet five people forced from their homelands, including Nart, a Syrian lawyer who becomes an underground activist fighting the Assad regime until the risk of imprisonment and torture becomes too great. Sina is newly married and heavily pregnant when she finds herself travelling alone across three continents to escape the Eritrean dictatorship. And Hanan watches in horror as the safe world she built for her four children in Damascus collapses, and she has to entrust their lives to people smugglers.

While the politicians wrangle over responsibility, and the media talk in statistics, Cast Away brings to life the human consequences of the most urgent issue of our time.” (336 pgs.)

 

AND THE WEAK SUFFER WHAT THEY MUST, Yanis Varoufakis

“In this dramatic narrative of Europe’s economic rise and spectacular fall, Yannis Varoufakis shows that the origins of the recent collapse go far deeper than our leaders are prepared to admit – and that we have done nothing so far to fix them.

From the aftermath of the Second World War to the present, Varoufakis recounts how  the Eurozone emerged not as a route to shared prosperity but as a pyramid scheme of debt with countries such as Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain at the bottom. Propped up by the banking boom, its woeful design ensured that collapse would be inevitable and catastrophic.

But since the hurricane landed, Europe’s leaders have chosen a cocktail of more debt and harsh austerity rather than reform, ensuring that the weakest citizens of the weakest nations pay the price for the bankers’ mistakes, while doing nothing to prevent the next implosion. Instead, the principle of the greatest austerity for those suffering the greatest recessions has led to a resurgence of racist extremism. Once more, Europe is a potent threat to global stability.

Drawing on the personal experience of his own negotiations with the eurozone’s financiers and offering concrete policies and alternatives, Varoufakis shows how we condocted this mess and how we can get out of it. And the weak suffer what they must? reminds us of our history in order to save European capitalism from itself.” (318 pgs.)

 

THE EURO, Joseph Stiglitz

“In 2010, the 2008 global financial crisis morphed into the ‘eurocrisis’. It has not abated. The 19 countries of the Eurozone have been rocked by economic stagnation and debt crises. Some of them have been in depression for years while the governing powers of the Eurozone have careened from emergency to emergency, most notably in Greece. Hailed by its architects as a lever that would bring Europe together and promote prosperity, the common currency has actually done the opposite.

In The Euro, Nobel prize-winning economist and bestselling author Joseph E. Stiglitz dismantles the prevailing consensus around what ails Europe, demolishing the champions of austerity while offering a series of plans that can rescue the continent from further devastation. As Stiglitz persuasively argues, Europe’s stagnation and bleak outlook are a direct result of the euro’s flawed birth, and since then economic integration has outpaced political integration, making its problems worse. Stiglitz shows how the current structure actively promotes divergence rather than convergence. He lays bare the European Central Bank’s misguided inflation-only mandate, and explains how Eurozone policies, especially towards the crisis countries, have further exposed the zone’s flawed design.

The question then is: can the euro be saved? Stiglitz outlines three possible ways forward: fundamental reforms in the structure of the Eurozone and the policies imposed on the member countries; a well-managed end to the single currency ‘euro’ experiment; or a bold, new system dubbed the ‘flexible euro’. Any of them would require far greater political will and cooperation than the leaders of the Eurozone have so far managed to find; but the alternative is disorderly breakup and an even worse political crisis than the continent has suffered so far.

This important book, by one of the world’s leading economists, addresses the eurocrisis on a bigger intellectual scale than any predecessor.” (454 pgs.)

 

AGAINST THE DOUBLE BLACKMAIL, Slavoj Žižek

“Today, hundreds of thousands of people, desperate to escape war, violence and poverty, are crossing the Mediterranean to seek refuge in Europe. Our response, argues Žižek, offers two versions of ideological blackmail: either we open our doors as widely as possible; or we try to pull up the drawbridge. Both solutions, states Žižek, are bad. They merely prolong the problem, rather than tackling it.

The refugee crisis also presents an opportunity, a unique chance for Europe to redefine itself: but, if we are to do so, we have to start raising unpleasant and difficult questions. We must also acknowledge that large migrations are our future. Only then can we commit to a carefully prepared process of change, one founded not on a community that sees the excluded as a threat, but one that takes as its basis the shared substance of our social being.

The only way, in other words, to get to the heart of one of the greatest issues confronting Europe today is to insist on the global solidarity of the exploited and oppressed. Maybe such solidarity is a utopia. But, warns Žižek, if we don’t engage in it, then we are really lost. And we will deserve to be lost.” (117 pgs.)

 

CONFRONTING POLITICAL ISLAM: SIX LESSONS FROM THE WEST'S PAST, John M. Owen IV

“Political Islam has often been compared to ideological movements of the past such as fascism or Christian theocracy. But are such analogies valid? How should the Western world today respond to the challenges of political Islam? Taking an original approach to answer this question, Confronting Political Islam compares Islamism's struggle with secularism to other prolonged ideological clashes in Western history. By examining the past conflicts that have torn Europe and the Americas—and how they have been supported by underground networks, fomented radicalism and revolution, and triggered foreign interventions and international conflicts—John Owen draws six major lessons to demonstrate that much of what we think about political Islam is wrong.

Owen focuses on the origins and dynamics of twentieth-century struggles among Communism, Fascism, and liberal democracy; the late eighteenth- and nineteenth-century contests between monarchism and republicanism; and the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century wars of religion between Catholics, Lutherans, Calvinists, and others. Owen then applies principles learned from the successes and mistakes of governments during these conflicts to the contemporary debates embroiling the Middle East. He concludes that ideological struggles last longer than most people presume; ideologies are not monolithic; foreign interventions are the norm; a state may be both rational and ideological; an ideology wins when states that exemplify it outperform other states across a range of measures; and the ideology that wins may be a surprise.

Looking at the history of the Western world itself and the fraught questions over how societies should be ordered, Confronting Political Islam upends some of the conventional wisdom about the current upheavals in the Muslim world.

John M. Owen IV is professor of politics and a faculty fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia. His books include The Clash of Ideas in World Politics (Princeton) and Liberal Peace, Liberal War.” (216 pgs.)

 

Rules for Eligibility here.

Winners of previous editions were:
2015 – Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalization of Democracy by Francis Fukuyama
2013 - Civilization - The West and the Rest by Niall Ferguson
2011 - The Idea of Human Rights by Charles Beitz
2009 - Creating a World without Poverty by Muhammad Yunus and The Bottom Billion by Paul Collier (ex-aqueo)

LeYa is the main sponsor of  Estoril Global Issues Distinguished Book Prize.