Mental health professionals with the U.S. Center for Disease Control and the European Union’s Mental Health Europe, have similarly emphasized the importance of maintaining good mental health and positive wellbeing to better cope with the current COVID-19 threat, and the uncertainty it’s creating for the future. But, the mental health professionals have a prescription for us to assiduously follow during these trying times:

    • Take periodic breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories about COVID-19, including on social media, as hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting 

    • Get plenty of exercise and sleep

    • Make time to unwind

    • Engage in spiritual pursuits, such as meditation or prayer

    • Take time to connect with others, and talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling

However, our new imposed isolation also means that those of us who participate in the International Relations Council’s Great Decisions discussion groups are saddened that our face-to-face conversations have been temporarily curtailed due to the current necessity for social distancing. Nevertheless, we can still read edifying books regarding foreign policy issues and engage in spirited online exchanges of ideas and opinions!

It is with this ethos in mind, I have resolved to take this opportunity to read five geopolitical (and/or historical and economic) books that have intrigued me, but I hadn’t the opportunity to crack open before now. Let’s keep the greater Kansas City community connected, reading, and discussing important world issues. The following are my list of the five geopolitical books I intend to devour in the next few months. I look forward to seeing what topical Great Decisions type books are on your shelves.

Dis United Nations: The Scramble for Power in an Ungoverned World, by Peter Zeihan

For decades, America’s allies have depended on its might for their economic and physical security. But as a new age dawns; the results will surprise everyone. The world has gotten so accustomed to the ‘normal’ of an American-dominated order that we have all forgotten the historical norm: several smaller, competing powers and economic systems throughout Europe and Asia.”

Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Explain Everything about the World by Tim Marshall

“All leaders of nations are constrained by geography. Their choices are limited by mountains, rivers, seas, and concrete…Marshall examines Russia, China, the United States, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, Western Europe, Japan, Korea, and Greenland and the Arctic, their climates, seas, mountains, rivers, deserts, and borders to provide a context often missing from political reportage.”

AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order by Kai-Fu Lee

“Most experts already say that AI will have a devastating impact on blue-collar jobs. But Lee predicts that Chinese and American AI will have a strong impact on white-collar jobs as well. Is universal income the solution? In Lee’s opinion, probably not. But he provides a clear description of which jobs will be affected and how soon, which jobs can be enhanced with AI, and most important, how we can provide solutions to some of the most profound changes in human history that are coming soon.”

 Energy: A Human History by Richard Rhodes

“People have lived and died, businesses have prospered and failed, and nations have risen to world power and declined, all over energy challenges. Ultimately, the history of these challenges tells the story of humanity itself.”

Coffee: A Dark History by Antony Wild

“Today, coffee chains spread like wildfire, coffee-producing countries are in crisis: with prices at a historic low, they are plagued by unprecedented unemployment, abandoned farms, enforced migration, and massive social disruption. Bridging the gap between coffee’s dismal colonial past and its perilous corporate present, Coffee reveals the shocking exploitation that has always lurked at the heart of the industry.”  

Buona lettura. Ciao!

About the Author

Sean P. Quinlan is a graduate of Tulane University, where he received his M.A. degree in Political Economy, and is currently pursuing an M.A. degree in Intelligence and National Security Studies at The Citadel Military College of South Carolina.