Book Reviews

Embracing Complexity – a good new book on systems thinking (and action)

Duncan Green - August 26, 2015

Jean Boulton is a regular both here on the blog and in the corridors of Oxfam. She’s a onetime theoretical physicist turned consultant, and one of her passions is complexity and systems thinking, and their implications for how organizations, including development agencies, go about their work. Now she’s teamed up with fellow lapsed physicist Peter Allen, and Cliff Bowman (a ‘theorist and practitioner of strategy’, …

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The Politics of Results and Evidence in International Development: important new book

Duncan Green - August 5, 2015

The results/value for money steamroller grinds on, with aid donors demanding more attention to measurement of impact. At first sight that’s a good thing – who could be against achieving results and knowing whether you’ve achieved them, right? Step forward Ros Eyben, Chris Roche, Irene Guijt and Cathy Shutt, who take a more sceptical look in a new book, The Politics of Results and Evidence …

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The Origins of Political Order: Review of Francis Fukuyama’s impressive history of the state

Duncan Green - July 29, 2015
fukobook

Ricardo Fuentes has been raving about this book for months, so I packed it in my holiday luggage. Actually it’s two books – The Origins of Political Order takes us from pre-history up to the French Revolution/American Revolution, and the subsequent Political Order and Political Decay brings us up to the present day. They each weigh in at around 500 pages, so hope you won’t mind …

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Geek Heresy, by Kentaro Toyama: book review

Duncan Green - July 10, 2015

Guest post by Gawain Kripke, Oxfam America’s Director of Policy  I love my smart phone. It’s awesome and it makes me more awesome. I honestly think that my life is much better with it than without. It makes me a better worker – able to review documents, communicate with colleagues, keep projects moving smoothly even when I’m out of the office.   It makes me a better …

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Latest high level broadside on inequality – “In It Together…” from the OECD

Duncan Green - June 5, 2015

Guest post from Oxfam inequality researcher Daria Ukhova Last month, the OECD published a new flagship report on inequality In It Together: Why Less Inequality Benefits All, continuing a series and building on the findings of the previous reports Growing Unequal? (2008) and Divided We Stand: Why Inequality Keeps Rising (2011). At Oxfam since the launch of our Even It Up campaign, we have been …

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Book Review of ‘Advocacy in Conflict’ – a big attack on politics and impact of global campaigns

Duncan Green - May 8, 2015

[Oops. This was supposed to go up next Thursday when the book is published, but I hit the wrong button and posted it by mistake – blame the UK elections for keeping me up all night…..] If you work in advocacy, especially the international sort, this is a necessary but painful read – it’s hard finding yourself the brunt of a 300 page sustained critique, …

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Could the UN’s new Progress of the World’s Women provide the foundations for feminist economic policy?

Duncan Green - April 28, 2015

Yesterday I went to the London launch of UN Women’s new flagship report, Progress of the World’s Women 2015-16, in the slightly incongruous setting of the Institution of Civil Engineers – walls adorned with portraits of bewigged old patriarchs  from a (happily) bygone era (right). The report is excellent. These big multilateral publications are usually a work of synthesis, bringing together existing research rather than …

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A Novel Idea: Would Fiction be a better induction to a new job than boring briefings?

Duncan Green - March 31, 2015

A mysterious, anonymised, scarlet pimpernel character called J. flits around the aid world, writing a blog (Tales from the Hood – now defunct, but collected into a book, Letters Left Unsent) and fiction. He asked me for a plug for the latest novel, Honor Among Thieves. Here’s the plot blurb: ‘Mary-Anne has left East Africa and traded in her dusty cargo pants for business suits …

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Blueprint for Revolution, a fantastically readable and useful handbook for activists

Duncan Green - March 11, 2015

This review also went up on the Guardian Development Professionals Network site I recently summarized a New York Times piece on non-violent activism, discussing the ideas of the Serbian protestors who overthrew Slobodan Milosevic, and then went on to train protest movements around the world. I’ve now read the new book by one of the leaders, Srjdja Popovic (right), and it’s brilliant. First prize for readability …

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