Egyptian Revolution, European Flashpoints, Cryptocurrency, & More | Nonfiction Previews, Jan. 2015, Pt. 4

Cambanis, Thanassis. Once Upon a Revolution: An Egyptian Story. S. & S. Jan. 2015. 288p. ISBN 9781451658996. $26. POLITICAL SCIENCE
A correspondent for the Atlantic who also writes “The Internationalist” column for the Boston Globe, Cambanis captures the 2011 Tahrir Square revolution in Cairo by focusing on two key leaders: Basem, a middle-class architect not previously interested in politics, and Moaz, a Muslim Brother who defied his own organization to join the protests. The author, based in nearby Beirut, covers both the triumph and the letdown that followed.

Chayes, Sarah. Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security. Norton. Jan. 2015. 288p. ISBN 9780393239461. $26.95. POLITICAL SCIENCE
Thinkers as far back as Machiavelli have seen corruption in government as not just costly and inconvenient but downright destabilizing, argues award-winning former NPR correspondent Chayes. She cites contemporary examples like the Taliban reclamation of Afghanistan to show that friedmancorruption can inspire revolution or attraction to the radical fringe. And, significantly, it’s destabilizing on a world scale. Important reading for the politically aware.

Friedman, George. Flashpoints: The Emerging Crisis in Europe. Doubleday. Jan. 2015. 320p. ISBN 9780385536332. $28.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385536349. CD/downloadable: Random Audio. POLITICAL SCIENCE
Founder and CEO of the leading private intelligence company Stratfor and author of New York Times best sellers like The Next Decade, Friedman is worried about contemporary Europe. He argues that because of cultural divisions and geopolitical tensions, the flashpoints that set off war in Europe a century ago, killing 100 million people, continue to exist today. Both history and forecast; there will be a five-city tour.

Hari, Johann. Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs. Bloomsbury USA. Jan. 2015. 400p. ISBN 9781620408902. $27. SOCIAL SCIENCE
Twice named Journalist of the Year by Amnesty International, for his reporting on the war in the Central African Republic and on Dubai, Hari takes on a different task here. He tracks the war on drugs, which started 100 years ago with the first arrests under the Harrison Act, then uses the evidence he accrued on a 20,000-mile fact-finding trip to argue that drugs should be legalized and controlled and the money saved spent on prevention and treatment. He doesn’t say this lightly; people close to him have suffered grievously from drug abuse.

Huckabee, Mike. God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy. St. Martin’s. Jan. 2015. 272p. ISBN 9781250060990. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466866713. CD: Macmillan Audio. AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Though this is billed as autobiography, it sounds more like a political position paper, with the former Arkansas governor, 2008 Presidential candidate, and popular radio-show host reflecting on religion, patriotism, and the pressures we place on children today while arguing that he is a “New American Outcast” who still supports basic American values. As he asks, “Have I been mocketttaken to a different planet than the one on which I grew up?” Well, yes.

Mockett, Marie Mutsuki. Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye: A Journey. Norton. Jan. 2015. 352p. ISBN 9780393063011. $26.95. MEMOIR
When Mockett’s Japanese grandfather died, radiation levels at the Buddhist temple the family owned not far from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant were so high that his bones could not be buried. At the same time, Mockett’s American father died unexpectedly. Seeking understanding, Mockett investigated the rituals of grief, calling on Zen priests and ordinary Japanese to guide her. A reportedly jaw-droppingly beautiful book from the author whose novel Picking Bones from Ash was shortlisted for the 2010 Saroyan Prize.

Reid, Joy-Ann. Fracture: Obama, the Clintons, and the Democratic Divide. Morrow. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780062305251. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062305275. POLITICAL SCIENCE
MSNBC correspondent Reid, a press aide to Barack Obama’s Florida campaign in 2008, here charts a split in the Democratic Party owing to the rivalry between Obama and Hillary Clinton and considers how it might affect the 2016 Presidential elections. If Clinton runs again, will Obama stump for her? With a 75,000-copy first printing; pushed back from June 2014.

Steinberg, Jonny. A Man of Good Hope. Knopf. Jan. 2015. 336p. ISBN 9780385352727. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385352734. BIOGRAPHY
As chronicled by award-winning South African journalist Steinberg, Asad Abdullahi’s life has been one of relentless dislocation, from his fleeing Somalia in 1991 at age eight after his mother’s murder by militiamen. He moved from country to country, camp to camp, until ending in South Africa—where Steinberg met him in 2010 in a displaced persons camp for foreign bitcoinnationals victimized by violence. Abdullahi still dreamed hopefully of being granted refugee status in America. Comparisons to Katherine Boo’s Beyond the Beautiful Forevers.

Vigna, Paul & Michael J. Casey. The Age of Cryptocurrency: How Bitcoin and Cybermoney Are Overturning the Global Economic Order. St. Martin’s. Jan. 2015. 304p. ISBN 9781250065636. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466873063. FINANCE
Do you know what bitcoin is? You’d better learn, because cryptocurrency, of which bitcoin is a prime example, is poised to change the world’s social and financial structures by cutting out the middleman, bringing in millions who currently have no access to banking, and guarding us from events like the still-reverberating 2008 crash. But bitcoin has a rep for being unstable, and it’s certainly mysterious. Two Wall Street journalists explain.


Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.