Chasing the Norm

Australian academic and blogger on politics, international relations, and culture

Book Reviews

A collection of my non-fiction book reviews.


A Coast Too Long: Defending Australia Beyond The 1990s – Ross Babbage

The Adolescent Country – Peter Hartcher

The Age of Airpower – Martin van Creveld

The Age of the Unthinkable: Why the New World Disorder Constantly Surprises Us And What We Can Do About It  – Joshua Cooper Ramo

America the Philosophical – Carlin Romano

American Ulysses: A Life of Ulysses S. Grant – Ronald C. White Jr.

ANZAC’s Long Shadow: The cost of our national obsession – James Brown

Australia-China Relations post 1949: Sixty Years of Trade and Politics –  Yi Wang

Australian Between Empires: The Life of Percy Spender – David Lowe

Australia’s Second Chance – George Megalogenis


Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates

Beyond Great Powers and Hegemons: Why Secondary States Support, Follow, or Challenge. – Kristen P. Williams, Steven E. Lobell, and Neal G. Jesse (eds.)

The Black War: Fear, Sex and Resistance in Tasmania – Nicholas Clements


The China Challenge: Shaping the Choices of a Rising Power – Thomas J. Christensen

China’s Future – David Shambaugh

China Matters: Getting it Right for Australia by Bates Gill, Linda Jakobson

City Limits: Why Australia’s cities are broken and how we can fix them – Jane-Frances Kelly, Paul Donegan

Clausewitz: A Very Short Introduction – Michael Eliot Howard

The Contest of the Century: The New Era of Competition with China – Geoff Dyer

Culture of Complaint: The Fraying of America – Robert Hughes

Cyber War Will Not Take Place – Thomas Rid

Cyber Security and Cyber War: What everyone needs to know – P.W Singer & Allan Friedman


Dangerous Allies – Malcolm Fraser & Cain Roberts

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World  – Cal Newport

Dependent Ally: A Study in Australian Foreign Policy – Coral Bell

Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam – H.R. McMaster

Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard

Diary of a Foreign Minister – Bob Carr

The Direction of War: Contemporary Strategy in Historical Perspective by Hew Strachan

Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War – Robert Gates


The Elements of Eloquence: How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase by Mark Forsyth

The End of American World Order – Amitav Acharya

The End of Power: From Boardrooms to Battlefields and Churches to States, Why Being in Charge isn’t what it use to be – Moisés Naím

Engaging the neighbours: Australia and ASEAN since 1974 by Frank Frost 

The Evolution of Strategy: Thinking War from Antiquity to the Present – Beatrice Heuser


Fateful Lightning: A new history of the Civil War and Reconstruction – Allen C. Guelzo

Fire and Ashes: Success and Failure in Politics – Michael Ignatieff

The First Dismissal – Luke Slattery

The Fourth Revolution: The global race to reinvent the state – John Micklethwait & Adrian Wooldridge

Founders’ Son: A life of Abraham Lincoln – Richard Brookhiser

Foreign Policy Making in Taiwan: From Principles to Pragmatism – Dennis Hickey

From Third World to First: The Singapore Story: 1965-2000 – Lee Kuan Yew 


Game Plan: The Case for a New Australian Grand Strategy – Ross Babbage

The Gillard Project – Michael Cooney

The Global Village Myth: Distance, War, and the Limits of Power – Patrick Porter

God and Gold: Britain, America, and the Making of the Modern World – Walter Russell Mead


Hard Interests, Soft Illusions: Southeast Asia and American Power – Natasha Hamilton-Hart 


Independent Ally: Australia in an Age of Power Transition – Shannon Tow


John Quincy Adams – Harlow Giles Unger


Keynes/Hayek – The clash that defined modern economics – Nicholas Wapshott

The Korean War: A History – Bruce Cumings


Liberty, Equality and Democracy – Chris Berg

Light and Shadow: Memoirs of a Spy’s Son – Mark Colvin

The Lucky Culture: And the rise of an Australian Ruling Class – Nick Cater


The Mandarin Code – Steve Lewis, Chris Uhlmann

Maximalist: America in the world from Truman to Obama – Stephen Sestanovich

Middle Power Dreaming:  Australia in World Affairs, 2006-2010 – James Cotton and John Ravenhill (eds.)

MIKTA, Middle Powers, and New Dynamics of Global Governance: The G20’s Evolving Agenda – Mo Jongryn (Editor)

“Most Blessed of the Patriarchs”: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination – Annette Gordon-Reed, Peter S. Onuf


Napoleon the Great by Andrew Roberts

National Security and Double Government  Michael J. Glennon

The New American Militarism: How Americans are seduced by war – Andrew Bacevich

The New Front Page – Tim Dunlop

The New US Strategy Towards Asia: Adapting to the American Pivot – William T Tow and Douglas Stuart (eds.)

No, Minister: So You Want to Be a Chief of Staff ? – Allan Behm 

Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities by Martha C. Nussbaum


On Looking: Eleven walks with Expert Eyes – Alexandra Horowitz


Painting as a Pastime – Winston S. Churchill

The Peace of Illusions: American Grand Strategy from 1940 to the Present – Christopher Layne

The Political Bubble: Why Australians don’t trust politics – Mark Latham

Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 – Tony Judt

Power and International Relations: Essays in honour of Coral Bell – Desmond Ball & Sheryn Lee

Presumptive Engagement: Australia’s Asia-Pacific Security Policy in the 1990s – Desmond Ball & Pauline Kerr

Progress – Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future – Johan Norberg



Rebalancing US Forces: Basing and Forward Presence in the Asia-Pacific – Carn Lord & Andrew S. Erickson (ed.)

Red Star Over the Pacific: China’s Rise and the Challenge to U.S. Maritime Strategy – Toshi Yoshihara & James R. Holmes 

Restless Continent: Wealth, rivalry and Asia’s new geopolitics – Michael Wesley

The Rise and Fall of Australia: How a great nation lost its way – Nick Bryant

Rise of the Machines: the lost history of cybernetics – Thomas Rid

Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces – Radley Balko

The Road to Character – David Brooks

The Road to Monticello – The Life and Times of Thomas Jefferson – Kevin J. Hayes

Rudd, Gillard and Beyond – Troy Bramston


A Savage War: A Military History of the Civil War – Williamson Murray, Wayne Wei-siang Hsieh

The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a time of Brilliant Technologies – Erik Brynjolfsson & Andrew McAfee

The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century – Steven Pinker

Somebody Else’s Century: East and West in a Post-Western World  – Patrick Smith 

The South China Sea: The Struggle for Power in Asia – Bill Hayton 

Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and how it changed the world – Walter Russell Mead

Still Ours To Lead: America, Rising Powers and the Tension between Rivalry and Restrain – Bruce Jones

Strategy in Asia: The Past, Present, and Future of Regional Security –  Thomas G. Mahnken & Dan Blumenthal (Eds)


Talking to my country – Stan Grant

The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor – William Easterly

This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly – Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth Rogoff

Thomas Jefferson – The Art of Power – Jon Meacham

The Tools of Owatatsumi: Japan’s Ocean Surveillance and Coastal Defence Capabilities – Desmond Ball, Richard Tanter

To Save Everything Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism – Evgeny Morozov

Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief – James M. McPherson

Two Futures: Australia at a Critical Moment – Clare O’Neil, Tim Watts




The Wealth of Humans: Work, Power, and Status in the Twenty-first Century by Ryan Avent

Why I Am Not a Feminist: A Feminist Manifesto – Jessa Crispin

Why the future is Workless – Tim Dunlop

The Wife Drought – Annabel Crabb

Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century – Peter W. Singer




Zealot: The life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth – Reza Aslan

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future – Peter Thiel, Blake Masters