January 15, 2010


Achebe, Chinua, The Education of a British-Protected Child: Essays (New York: Knopf, 2009) (From "The University and the Leadership Factor in Nigerian Politics": "But supposing an army were to recruit its elite corps not on the highest and toughest standards of soldiering but because they were the children of generals and admirals, it would have created a corrupt elite corps pampered with special favors without having the ability of storm trooper. So the real point about an elite is not whether it is necessary or not but whether it is genuine or counterfeit. This boils down to how it is recruited. And this is true of any elite system. An elite corps of scientists is indispensable to the modern state, but if its recruitment is from the children and brother-in-law of professors rather than from young scientists of the greatest talent, it would be worse than useless, because it would not only fail to produce scientific results itself but would actually inhibit such results from other quarters. A counterfeit elite, in other words, inflicts double jeopardy on society." "So the real problem posed by leadership is that recruitment. Political philosophers from Socrates and Plato to the present tie have wrestled with it. Every human society . . . has also battled with it. How do we secure the services of a good leader?" Id. at 139, 146-147.).

Euben, Roxanne L., & Muhammad Qasim Zaman, eds., Princeton Readings in Islamist Thought: Text and Contexts from Al-Banna to Bin Laden (Princeton & Oxford: Princeton U. Press, 2009) ("This volume is intended as a broad introduction to the evolution and scope of Islamist political thought from the early twentieth century to the present. . . ." "The focus on Islamist thought inevitably tends to privilege writing over speech, ideas over particular practices. Yet this reader ultimately challenges the very opposition between 'theory' and practice' by showing the interrelation of thought and action in the lives of individual Islamists as well as in Islamist ideas and the dynamics of their political appeal. . . ." Id. at 1.).

Rogan, Eugene, The Arabs: A History (New York: Basic Books: 2009) (The book is well-reviewed in The Economist, November 12, 2009: "This is very much a traditional history, focused on the interplay of powers and the march of events. In other words, Mr Rogan’s book might more aptly have been called a modern political history of the Arabs." "It is not a particularly happy story, but it is a fascinating one, and exceedingly well told. Mr Rogan manoeuvres with skilful assurance, maintaining a steady pace through time, and keeping the wider horizon in view even as he makes use of a broad range of judiciously chosen primary sources to enrich the narrative. The more closely focused views of Arab contemporaries add not just texture and sometimes fun, but also give a deeper sense of changing Arab sensibilities.").