Top 12 Books: International Women’s Day

Krisztina Csortea

On International Women’s Day the achievements of women from around the world are celebrated, this is particularly important because many of these achievements are not sufficiently celebrated during the rest of the year. Because of this, our Book Reviews Editor Krisztina Csortea has put together a list of her favourite books — and one film — written by women, which have been reviewed in International Affairs over the last year.

1) Our time has come: how India is making its place in the world

Ian Hall:Our time has come is not a conventional study of contemporary Indian foreign policy. But the book’s principal intent is to explore what Indians want: what place they think India ought to have and what part it ought to play in the world.’

Read the full International Affairs review here.

2) China and the geopolitics of rare earths

Miriam Aczel: ‘This an important and timely analysis of China’s monopoly on rare earth minerals. China’s policies are a source of rising international tension, which makes the analysis in this book and the lessons drawn from its case-study of increasing international and multisectoral importance.’

Read the full International Affairs review here.

3) Syria: the making and unmaking of a refuge state

James Denselow: ‘Dawn Chatty paints a fascinating picture of how the twentieth century, a “century of displacement” shaped the population of Syria.’ While we focus today on Syria’s over five million refugees, Chatty explores how the country was formerly a place of refuge for waves of people searching for safety.’

Read the full International Affairs review here.

4) War, women, and power: from violence to mobilization in Rwanda and Bosnia-Herzegovina

Joyce P. Kaufman: ‘As a country transitions from violent conflict to “peace”, men and women often have different visions for the postwar future. Marie E. Berry’s well-researched book is a comparative study not only of the ways in which women responded to the wars in Rwanda and Bosnia, but also of what happened to the women and their visions for the future after the war officially ended.’

Read the full International Affairs review here.

5) The politics of drug violence: criminals, cops, and politicians in Colombia and Mexico

Carolina Sampó: ‘The most important finding in Durán-Martinez’s book is that violence is not an inherent attribute of the drug trade, but is a result of the interaction between the state and criminal actors. Crime and illegality do not necessary reflect the absence of state.’

Read the full International Affairs review here.

6) On small war: Carl von Clausewitz and people’s war

Huw Bennett: ‘Scheipers sets herself an ambitious goal: to overturn the widely held belief that Clausewitz has little of note to say on small wars or guerrillas. Her vigorously argued book is the first to apprehend how Clausewitz’s theory of war cannot be construed without small war at its very core.’

Read the full International Affairs review here.

7) The venture capital state: the Silicon Valley model in east Asia

Juergen Braunstein: ‘The book brings the growing world of venture capital square into political economy scholarship. And it offers a serious rebuttal to Friedman’s notion that government involvement can waste even naturally existing and plentiful resources. Rather, the state has been a key player even in supposedly free markets that neo-liberals so admire.’

Read the full International Affairs review here.

8) Rwanda: from genocide to precarious peace

Herman T. Salton: ‘Is it possible to create a stable and prosperous polity out of a society that was torn apart by genocidal fury only two decades before? Rwanda’s post-genocidal transformation has been as spectacular as the country’s descent into violence in 1994. Although her analysis focuses on Rwanda, some of Thompson’s concerns about the long-term viability of peace resonate far more widely.’

Read the full International Affairs review here.

9) Death machines: the ethics of violent technologies

Emil Archambault: ‘Death machines offers a persuasive and elaborate discussion of the slippage of ethical categories which underpins the use of increasingly automated technologies, leading to ever more pervasive recourse to violence.’

Read the full International Affairs review here.

10) Sweden’s dark soul: the unravelling of a utopia

Tom Gallagher: ‘An insightful and highly original appraisal of the difficulties a previously stable country encounters when its elites opt for a national experiment that is based on progressive faith rather than on practical planning or foresight.’

Read the full International Affairs review here.

11) Brazil: a biography

Kai Michael Kenkel: ‘A crucial voice, imbued with a combination of nuance, critique and ownership, and an uncanny ability to demonstrate in accessible terms the historical roots of both the positive and negative aspects of Brazilian society today.’

Read the full International Affairs review here.

12) Pili

Constance Duncombe: ‘Pili is an aesthetically powerful film. It makes a path-breaking academic contribution to debates on AIDS/HIV prevention and treatment: it visually demonstrates the role of structures of gender inequality and development in exacerbating the AIDS/HIV pandemic, furthering our understandings of the possible political responses to alleviating such crises.’

Read the full International Affairs review here.


This list is of course only a small selection of the work by women that we have reviewed in International Affairs over the last year, as part of our efforts to amplify traditional under-represented experts in the field of International Relations. Read our guide on diversifying expertise here and a discussion on addressing the gender citation gap here.


Krisztina Csortea is the Book Reviews Editor for International Affairs.

Read the book reviews section of our March issue, which includes Brazil, Sweden’s dark soul and Death machines, here.