The Scramble For Europe by Stephen Smith

The Blurb On The Back:

From the harrowing situation of migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean in rubber dinghies to the crisis on the US-Mexico border, mass migration is one of the most urgent issues facing our societies today.  At the same time, viable solutions seem ever more remote, with the increasing polarisation of public attitudes and political positions.

In this book, Stephen Smith focuses on ‘young Africa’ – 40 per cent of its population are under fifteen – and a dramatic demographic shift.  Today, 510 million people live inside EU borders, and 1.25 billion in Africa.  In 2050, 450 million Europeans will face 2.5 billion Africans – five times their number.  The demographics are implacable.  The scramble for Europe will become as inexorable as the ‘scramble for Africa’ was at the end of the nineteenth century, when 275 million people lived north and only 100 million lived south of the Mediterranean.  Then it was all about raw materials and national pride, now it is about young Africans seeking a better life on the Old Continent, the island of prosperity within their reach.  If Africa’s migratory patterns follow the historic precedents set by other less developed parts of the world, in thirty years a quarter of Europe’s population will be Afro-Europeans.  Addressing the question of how Europe can cope with an influx of this magnitude, Smith argues for a path between the two extremes of today’s debate.  He advocates migratory policies of ‘good neighbourhood’ equidistant from guilt-Rudder self-denial and nativist egotism.

This sobering analysis of the migration challenges we now face will be essential reading for anyone concerns with the great social and political questions of our time.  

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Swiss Watching: Inside The Land Of Milk And Honey by Diccon Bewes

The Blurb On The Back:

One country, four languages, 26 cantons and 8 million people (but only 75% of them Swiss): welcome to Europe’s most individual country.  But there’s more to Switzerland than banks and skis, francs and cheese.  This is a place where the breathtaking scenery shaped a nation not just a tour itinerary, and where tradition is as important as innovation.  It’s also been home to travel writer Diccon Bewes for over a decade.

Diccon started his Swiss explorations by seeking Heidi and finding the best chocolate, but soon became the ultimate outsider on the inside.  He discovered that not all the cheese has holes, cuckoo clocks aren’t Swiss and the trains aren’t always on time.  In fact, he uncovered the true meaning of Swissness and, in this new edition, started on the road to becoming Swiss himself.  

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Egypt by Robert Springborg

The Blurb On The Back:

Egypt is one of the few great empires of antiquity that exists today as a nation state.  Despite its extraordinary record of national endurance, the pressures to which Egypt is currently subjected and which are bound to intensify are already straining the ties that hold its political community together, while rendering the task of governing it ever more difficult.

In this timely book, Robert Springborg explains how a country with such a long and impressive history has come to find itself in this parlous condition.  As Egyptians become steadily more divided by class, religion, region, ethnicity, gender, and contrasting views of how, by whom, and for what purposes they should be governed, so their rulers become ever more fearful, repressive, and unrepresentative. Caught in a downward spiral in which poor governance is both cause and consequence, Egypt is facing a future so uncertain that it could end up resembling neighbouring countries that have collapsed under similar loads.  The Egyptian “hot spot”, Springborg argues, is destined to become steadily hotter, with ominous implications for its peoples, the Middle East and North Africa, and the wider world. 

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The Real Politics Of The Horn Of Africa by Alex de Waal

The Blurb On The Back:

The Real Politics Of The Horn Of Africa delves into the business of politics in the turbulent, war-torn countries of north-east Africa.  It is a contemporary history of how politicians, generals and insurgents bargain over money and power, and use violence to achieve their goals.

Drawing on a thirty-year career in Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia, including experience as a participant in high-level peace talks, Alex de Waal provides a unique and compelling account of how these countries’ leaders run their governments, conduct their business, fight their wars and, occasionally, make peace.  De Waal shows how leaders operate on a business model, securing funds for their ‘political budgets’, which they use to rent the provisional allegiances of army officers, militia commanders, tribal chiefs and party officials at the going rate.  This political marketplace is eroding the institutions of government and reversing state building – and it is fuelled by oil exports, aid funds and western military assistance for counter-terrorism and peacekeeping.

The Real Politics Of The Horn Of Africa is a sharp and disturbing book with profound implications for international relations, development and peacemaking in the Horn of Africa and beyond.

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The New Scramble For Africa by Pádraig Carmody

The Blurb On The Back:

Once marginalized in the world economy, Africa today is a major global supplier of crucial raw materials like oil, uranium and coltan.  China’s part in this story has loomed particularly large in recent years, and the American military footprint on the continent has also expanded.  But a new scramble for resources, markets and territory is now taking place in Africa, involving not just state, but non-state actors, including Islamic fundamentalist and other rebel groups.

The second edition of Pádraig Carmody’s popular book explores the duamics of the new scramble for African resources, markets and territory, and the impact of current investment and competition on people, the environment, and political and economic development on the continent.  Fully revised and updated throughout its chapters explore old and new economic power interest in Africa; oil, minerals, timber, biofuels, land, food and fisheries; and the nature and impacts of Asian and South African investment in manufacturing and other sectors.

The New Scramble For Africa will be essential reading for students of African studies, international relations and resource politics, as well as anyone interested in current affairs.

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Do We Need Economic Inequality? by Danny Dorling

The Blurb On The Back:

Although economic inequality provokes widespread disquiet, its supposed necessity is rarely questioned.  At best, a basic level of inequality is seen as a necessary evil.  At worst, it is seen as insufficient to encourage aspiration, hard work and investment – a refrain sometimes used to advocate ever greater inequality.

In this original new book, Danny Dorling critically analyses historical trends and contemporary assumptions in order to question the idea that inequality is an inevitability.  What if, he asks, widespread economic inequality is actually just a passing phase, a feature of the capitalist transition from a settled rural way of life to our next highly urban steady-state?  Is it really likely that we face a Blade Runner-style dystopian future divided between a tiny elite and an impoverished mass?

Dorling shows how, amongst much else, a stabilizing population, changing gender relations and rising access to education make a more egalitarian alternative to this nightmare vision not only preferable, but realistic. This bold contribution to one of the most significant debates of our time will be essential reading for anyone interested in our economic, social and political destiny. 

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