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LOCAL BOOK REVIEWS

“The Pentagon’s New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-First Century” By Thomas P.M. Barnett

Barnett distills four themes – security, economics, politics and culture – into a cutting-edge vision of globalization. All are key to war and peace in the 21st century. He provides an insightful analysis of problems the Pentagon faced once the Cold War ended. Who was the next great enemy, needed to justify new, high-tech weapons? With the Soviet fleet rotting in port, what was the hunter-killer sub’s new mission?

Barnett’s views languished until Sept. 11, 2001, when the Pentagon got a new mission: eradicate terrorism, a mission it was ill equipped to accomplish. Our armed forces can rapidly smash rogue armies in weeks but are having trouble rebuilding nations, which takes decades.



A brilliant thinker, Barnett divides the world into core nations connected by trade and communications in the global economy. The disconnected nations, which he calls the nonintegrating gap, are isolated from the global economy by religion, failed leadership and economic stupidity. The world is safer, once the core works to shrink the gap. I highly recommend this important public policy book. More information at: http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/pnm/pnm_index.htm

– Russ Steele




“Skeletons on the Zahara”

By Dean King

A cross between fiction and nonfiction, this book is, in fact, an historical re-creation based on journals by two sailors shipwrecked in 1815 on the west coast of Africa in what is now Morocco, a country where the Sahara Desert (then spelled Zahara) meets the Atlantic Ocean.

The crew was captured by a desert tribe, stripped of all possessions, enslaved, sold and bartered among nomadic tribes, and eventually ransomed.

Author King has seamlessly merged the journals with re-created conversations, diplomatic papers and shipping documents. Blended into the narrative are scientific descriptions of thirst, hunger, dehydration, the physiology of the camel, the geography and geology of the Sahara, and cultural tidbits about the Islamic tribes of the desert.

It is interesting, entertaining and informative. For instance, did you know that the digestive system of a camel is so efficient at retaining water that camel feces are dry enough they can be burned for fuel immediately upon being expelled? Not terribly useful information in Nevada County, but a fun little factoid you might want to bring up at your next dinner party.

– Curt Sutliff


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