A person reads in a beach chair on the beach
Category: Featured News, News

Title: SSP Recommended Reading, Summer 2022

Every year, we ask the SSP community what books they would recommend to students who want to keep their minds busy over the summer. For 2022, we asked our faculty (both core and adjunct) for their recommendations. The only rule? It has to be related to security in some way. Looking for even more reading suggestions? Don’t worry. There’s plenty to be found in our 2021 recommendations, 2020 recommendations, and our 2019 recommendations.

These books are recommended by SSP’s core and adjunct faculty, as noted below each recommendation. The program as a whole does not specifically endorse any of these books, nor can SSP be held liable for any sand that gets stuck in your library books.

Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters

Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters

By Kate Brown
About: Nuclear Issues, History, Policy, Environment

“This is the definitive study of the hidden environmental costs of the Soviet and U.S. nuclear arms race, told in parallel accounts of what occurred at the Hanford Reservation in Washington State and Ozersk in the Soviet Union by one of the foremost experts on the domestic consequences of nuclear weapons and nuclear energy.” — Prof. Erik Devereux

The New Fire: War, Peace, and Democracy in the Age of AI

The New Fire: War, Peace, and Democracy in the Age of AI

By Ben Buchanan & Andrew Imbrie
About: Contemporary Issues, Technology

“The New Fire is an essential guide to the age of artificial intelligence written by two of its leading scholars. Ben Buchanan and Andrew Imbrie help the reader understand the incredible promises and daunting perils of AI, while exploring the dramatic impact it could have on geopolitics in the decades ahead.” — Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (recommended by Prof. John Bansemer)

Spreading Hate: The Global Rise of White Supremacist Terrorism

Spreading Hate: The Global Rise of White Supremacist Terrorism

By Daniel Byman
About: Terrorism

“Daniel Byman brings unparalleled counterterrorism insight and expertise to this superb new treatment of modern white power terrorism. Spreading Hate identifies specific factors that have contributed to the recent surge of white supremacist terrorism, at home and abroad. For both the general reader and the scholar practitioner, you will not find a more measured and more thoughtful treatment of this complex set of issues. Read it for the analysis of how we got to this terrible place, but take special note in the latter chapters where Byman tells us what can be done to respond to these disturbing trends.”— Nicholas Rasmussen, Executive Director of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) and former Director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) (Recommended by Prof. Elizabeth Grimm)

Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men

Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men

By Caroline Criado Perez
About: History, Contemporary Issues, Politics, Policy, Gender

“A tiny sampling of why ‘inclusion’ is a perilous concept and why the ‘glass ceiling’ continues to exist: because the world is by default, male, and anyone else must exhaust themselves trying to ‘fit’ or ‘succeed’ against their own nature.” — Prof. Gina M Bennett

The Storm Before the Storm: The Beginning of the End of the Roman Republic

The Storm Before the Storm: The Beginning of the End of the Roman Republic

By Mike Duncan
About: History

“The Storm Before the Storm is massively entertaining and relevant to our own time. All times, in fact. War, politics, money, power, corruption, and class warfare seem to overwhelm the republican Roman political system and the results are horrifying. Huge personalities like Marius and Sulla cast a large shadow, but forces beyond anyone’s control seem to drive the narrative. A chilling reminder of what can happen in any republic. Masterfully told.” — Dan Carlin, host of Hardcore History podcast (recommended by Prof. Keir Lieber)

Born into Blackness: Africa, Africans, and the Making of the Modern World, 1471 to the Second World War

Born into Blackness: Africa, Africans, and the Making of the Modern World, 1471 to the Second World War

By Howard W. French
About: International Relations, History

“A masterful recentering of international history on the role of Africa and Africans in that history. Beautifully written by a long-time journalist with extensive experience covering Africa’s role in the world. Eye-opening, illuminating, and convincing.” — Prof. David Edelstein

Ninety Percent of Everything: Inside Shipping, the Invisible Industry That Puts Clothes on Your Back, Gas in Your Car, and Food on Your Plate

Ninety Percent of Everything: Inside Shipping, the Invisible Industry That Puts Clothes on Your Back, Gas in Your Car, and Food on Your PlateParadoxes of Power, 1878-1928

By Rose George
About: Contemporary Issues, Economics

“It’s a great account of how international shipping works. The book combines an insider, first-person account on what life in a container ship is like with a broader look at the shipping industry. Enlightening and entertaining read for anyone interested in international business, maritime security issues, and even human trafficking and forced labor.” — Prof. Fabiana Perera

The Data Detective: Ten Easy Rules to Make Sense of Statistics

The Data Detective: Ten Easy Rules to Make Sense of Statistics

By Tim Harford
About: Contemporary Issues, Data Science

“[Harford] expertly guides us through the many ways in which data can trick us. . . . Though numbers are at the core of The Data Detective, it’s emotion that wields . . . power, affecting not only how we respond to data but also how we absorb it in the first place.” — The Wall Street Journal (recommended by Prof. John Bansemer)

A note from Prof. Bansemer: “Tim Harford also produced the excellent podcast 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy. Each episode is short, usually only 10-12 minutes–perfect for a walk from the metro.”

The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story

The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story

By Nikole Hannah-Jones
About: History

“A wide-ranging, landmark summary of the Black experience in America: searing, rich in unfamiliar detail, exploring every aspect of slavery and its continuing legacy … Again and again, The 1619 Project brings the past to life in fresh ways. . . . Multifaceted and often brilliant.”— The New York Times Book Review (Recommended by Prof. Keir Lieber)

There Is Nothing for You Here

There Is Nothing for You Here: Finding Opportunity in the Twenty-First Century

By Fiona Hill
About: Contemporary Issues, Domestic Politics

“The rare Trump insider memoir that doesn’t obsess over Trump… As it turns out, we should have paid more attention to Hill’s life story. Though her book does feature first-person accounts of Trump and his inner circle, There is Nothing for You Here is a more ambitious and personal effort.” — Washington Post (recommended by Prof. Michael O’Hanlon)

The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois

The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois

By Honorée Fanonne Jeffers
About: Fiction

“The historical archives of Black Americans are too often filled with broad outlines of what happened.… One of the many triumphs of Love Songs is how Jeffers transforms this large history into a story that feels specific and cinematic in the telling… Just as Toni Morrison did in Beloved, Jeffers uses fiction to fill in the gaping blanks of those who have been rendered nameless and therefore storyless.” — Veronica Chambers, New York Times Book Review (Recommended by Prof. Keir Lieber)

To Rule the Waves

To Rule the Waves

By Bruce Jones
About: Contemporary Issues, Environmental Security

“Beautifully crafted. . . . Read this book to come away with a deeper understanding of why the world’s oceans are both vital and connected to core defense, economic, and environmental security.” — War on the Rocks (recommended by Michael O’Hanlon)

Stalin: Paradoxes of Power, 1878-1928

Stalin: Paradoxes of Power, 1878-1928

By Stephen Kotkin
About: Regional Issues, History, Politics

“This book is more than just a biography of one of the most consequential people in human history: it is also a history of revolution and (brutal) state-building. Kotkin’s writing is beautiful, and he has the right mix between the biography of one person and the broader history of events (the rise of Marxism in Russia, the weakness of the conservative factions, Bolshevik diplomacy, and so on). The book reveals not only the cunning of Stalin but also the contingent nature of so many world-changing historical events.” — Prof. Daniel Byman

Living Lies

Living Lies

By James Lawler
About: Intelligence, Nuclear Issues, Regional Issues, Fiction

“Jim is a highly decorated retired CIA ops officer who has written a ‘close to reality’ work of fiction that aspiring DO officers need to read. Jim is the real deal.” — Prof. Paula Doyle

Damascus Station: A Novel

Damascus Station: A Novel

By David McCloskey
About: Intelligence, Regional Issues, Fiction

“Written by a former CIA officer, this book provides a good approximation of modern espionage tradecraft and, unlike so many spy novels, is set in a state in the developing world that is descending into violence and civil war, showing how those conditions affect intelligence operations.” — Prof. Mark Stout

Crude Volatility

Crude Volatility

By Robert McNally
About: International Relations, History, Contemporary Issues, Policy, Economics

“It is the go-to book for understanding the history that explains today’s current rollercoaster ride in global oil markets.” — Prof. Scott Modell

The Heart of War: Misadventures in the Pentagon

The Heart of War: Misadventures in the Pentagon

By Kathleen J. McInnis
About: Fiction

“A romantic adventure set in the Pentagon with a woman PhD as the lead. Who wouldn’t want to read this on the beach? Bonus: the author is the current director of the Smart Women, Smart Power Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).” — Prof. Fabiana Perera

The War on the West

The War on the West

By Douglas Murray
About: International Relations, Regional Issues, Contemporary Issues, Politics

“This book succinctly addresses the ideational assault on Western civilization from without and within, with ramifications for international relations, domestic politics, and traditional security. It also talks a lot about the role of universities in this activity.” — Prof. John Gentry

Seeking the Bomb: Strategies of Nuclear Proliferation

Seeking the Bomb: Strategies of Nuclear Proliferation

By Vipin Narang
About: Nuclear Issues, History

“This is a newly published, groundbreaking examination of the strategies used by different countries to seek nuclear weapons technology after 1960, written by a top expert who currently is on leave from MIT to serve in the Biden Administration’s Department of Defense.” — Prof. Erik Devereux

Alpha: Eddie Gallagher and the War for the Soul of the Navy Seals

Alpha: Eddie Gallagher and the War for the Soul of the Navy Seals

By Dave Phillips
About: Terrorism, Military Operations

“Searing expose on toxic culture within small special operations units, the ethical/moral dilemmas it can cause on the battlefield, and the larger organizational challenges it creates.” — Prof. Javed Ali

A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II

A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II

By Sonia Purnell
About: Intelligence, International Relations, Military Operations, History

“[An] excellent biography… if Virginia Hall herself remains something of an enigma — a testament, perhaps, to the skills that allowed her to live in the shadows for so long — the extraordinary facts of her life are brought onto the page here with a well-judged balance of empathy and fine detail. This book is as riveting as any thriller, and as hard to put down.” — The New York Times Book Review (recommended by Prof. J.D. Englehart)

Looking for the Good War: American Amnesia and the Violent Pursuit of Happiness

Looking for the Good War: American Amnesia and the Violent Pursuit of Happiness

By Elizabeth Samet
About: Military Operations, History

“Looking for the Good War is a remarkable book, from its title and subtitle to its last words . . . A stirring indictment of American sentimentality about war . . . Samet is a fine writer with a gift for powerful arguments articulated in elegant prose.” ― Robert G. Kaiser, The Washington Post (recommended by Prof. Rebecca Patterson)

 Russia Resurrected: Its Power and Purpose in a New Global Order

Russia Resurrected: Its Power and Purpose in a New Global Order

By Kathryn Stoner
About: Contemporary Issues, Russia, Global Politics

“The key strength of the book lies in its compelling argument that reveals how Russia has rebuilt various means of its power to expand its influence and at the same time how the country’s domestic politics constrain its future ambitions in global politics.” — Nivedita Kapoor, International Affairs (recommended by Prof. Michael O’Hanlon)

Restricted Data: The History of Nuclear Secrecy in the United States

Restricted Data: The History of Nuclear Secrecy in the United States

By Alex Wallerstein
About: Nuclear Issues, History, Policy

“Written by one of the foremost experts on nuclear weapons and the creator of the Nukemap website, this book examines the decades of unsuccessful efforts by the U.S. government to keep information about nuclear weapons out of the public domain.” — Prof. Erik Devereux

Spies, Lies, and Algorithms: The History and Future of American Intelligence

Spies, Lies, and Algorithms: The History and Future of American Intelligence

By Amy B. Zegart
About: Intelligence, Technology

“Amy Zegart’s marvelous book is a treasure for both the novice and the expert. Packed with history, insight, and wisdom from three decades of immersion in American intelligence, it provides an A-to-Z tour of this secretive world, and explores the challenges and dilemmas facing the intelligence community today.”― John E. McLaughlin, former deputy director and acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency (recommended by Prof. Elizabeth Grimm)