Book Reviews

Book Reviews

The History of the Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem

"It was in 1972 that I, as Chaplain, was contacted by a member of the Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem to conduct a memorial service for one of the inmates of the local prison. An inmate, still a young man, who had committed suicide. Suicide in prison happens frequently. For certain reasons my other Christian colleagues had no ear for the family and the friends of the deceased. I had never heard about this Order and had even little or no knowledge about any such Order! The service was held in a small church. The family and the friends were thankful. The fact that it happened in an (official) church was for most of the attendees a reason to be joyful. It meant that the deceased in any case was a human being. He was not — as people would say — put in a grave as a dog although some dogs get sometimes greater attention than a human being.

The fact that The Order of Saint Lazarus is not restricted to one instituted church is very important. It’s ecumenical in the right sense of the word; Roman Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox, Anglicans and members of other Christian denominations have always been active. Why? It is an Order; more Eastern than Western. It always was spiritually protected by the Eastern Church. To be exact: by the Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarchate. It is one of the oldest Orders of Chivalry since 1841. Right now the ‘spiritual’ father is the patriarch Gregorius III Laham. Certainly many of such Orders were created in the wake of the Crusades. Its real origins are somehow shrouded in a haze of reality and myth (page 14). The Order base their existence and mission on the story that before the actual Crusades took place there was, outside the walls of Jerusalem, a hospital for lepers under the patronage of Saint Lazarus (www.st-lazarus.nl). This book gives a clear picture of the Order; its quarrels, its schisms, its frustrations, its regional and national downfalls, its links with Governments and so often with the head of the Latin Church. The author reviews the Order in 7 chapters; Medieval Pilgrim Services in the Holy Land, The Brethren of the Order in the Holy Land, The Brethren of the Order in Medieval Europe, The Papal Bull Cum solerti meditation pensamus of 1489, The French First Colonial Empire, The Fused Orders of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and Saint Lazarus, & The Modern Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem. Certainly important are the aims of today’s evolution and philanthropic activities as seen in the light of our secular world. One of the important witnesses in the world of its humanitarian vocation was the fact that the theologian, missionary and medical doctor Albert Schweitzer (died 1965) was one of the prominent chevaliers. This book is both a well documented report (10 pages bibliography!) and an invitation to respect and to put into practice the message of Christian love and care for our fellowman in present-day society."
Chris Vonck, Rector FVG, published in Acta Comparanda XXVI

The Cosmopolitan Businessman: World and Worldview of Greek Merchant-Entrepreneurs

“Prof. Ariadni Moutafidou, a renowned historian and expert in the field of Modern Greek socio-economic history, explores in her innovative superb and sophisticated book on the Greek ‘big’ merchant-entrepreneurs, not only their mercantile operations, but mainly their thoughts, views, ideas, notions and beliefs within their own and the ‘outer’ world. Her broadened research encompasses the remarkable rise of Greek long-distance trade and shipping in the Mediterranean followed by their significant entrance into the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans during their golden era from the mid-eighteenth to the beginning of the twentieth century. Based on various rare autobiographical accounts, ego documents and commercial guidebooks as well as complementary archival documents and oral history preserved in second and third generation family accounts, the author firstly outlines the commercial culture of these businessmen. Ariadni Moutafidou then argues that the Greek merchant-entrepreneurs’ world and operations with extended international, economic and socio-economic networks, serve not only as a paradigm, but also constitute an integral, constitutive part of the merchant-entrepreneurs’ cosmopolitan world within the broader European-Mediterranean milieu during the nineteenth century. The Cosmopolitan Businessman broadened the research on the economic, social and cultural worldview of merchant-entrepreneurs, as well as on the interrelations between the ethnic mercantile communities. This rich, in-depth oeuvre offers a welcome challenge and contribution to the cultural, social and economic history of trading Diasporas including the interaction between them and their Jewish counterparts as described by the Greek merchants. Therefore, I strongly recommend publication of the manuscript.”
Orly C. Meron, Associate Professor, Former Head of the Interdisciplinary Department of Social Sciences, Bar-Ilan University, Israel;  Author of Jewish Entrepreneurship in Salonica, 1912-1940: An Ethnic Economy in Transition, Sussex Academic Press, 2011/2013

“I have been acquainted with Dr. Ariadni Moutafidou’s research for many years and am delighted to recommend her book for publication. Dr. Moutafidou is a highly regarded historian whose research presents a fine combination of substantial use of archival material and behavioral theories and models. Her articles have been published in respected journals and in collected volumes. The present book is an original investigation of the social and cultural world of Greek big merchant-entrepreneurs of the nineteenth century. It is the product of an exhaustive and wide-ranging research, based on an impressive collection of primary sources, autobiographical accounts of businessmen, personal papers and commercial reports and other relevant archival documents. This group of businessmen had a great impact in various areas on the development of Greek economy and society. The results of their activities were felt in many important urban centers in the Near and Middle East. This research is a significant contribution to Greek economic history in particular and to nineteenth century history of entrepreneurship in general. It will constitute an important source of documentation for historians in this field as well as for economists specializing in international trade and business networks. On these grounds, I warmly recommend the publication of this excellent manuscript.”
Prof. Jeannine Horowitz, Head Program of Hellenic Studies, University of Haifa

“I have known Dr. Ariadni Moutafidou for almost two decades and held her and her historical research in great esteem. I have read the manuscript of her latest work, The Cosmopolitan Businessman, with interest and I think it is minutely researched, carefully argued, and elegantly presented. It brings to life the complex world of Greek merchant entrepreneurs in the nineteenth century, seen in the broader context of historical developments in the Near and Middle East. It will definitely be of interest to specialists in the field but its informative and narrative virtues will also be appreciated by any reader with broader historical interests. I therefore have no hesitation in recommending its publication.”
Pantelis Lekkas BA (Sussex) PhD (Cantab), Professor of Political Sociology, Faculty of Political Science & Public Administration, University of Athens, Greece

“Building upon a profound historical knowledge, from which my own studies on European Philhellenism have very much profited, Moutafidou’s scholarship embarks on new explorations of the factors shaping the physiognomy of the 19th century Mediterranean world. The cosmopolitan Businessman offers a vivid account of and an erudite study on the trajectories of entrepreneurial action in intercultural spirit. The book maps persuasively the contribution of Greek merchants to the formation of the First Globalisation. An indispensable reading.”
Dr. Dr. Konstadinos Maras, Research Fellow Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities (KWI), Essen University of Duisburg-Essen

“This original study opens new avenues to our understanding of the social and cultural world of Greek entrepreneurs of the modern era. It offers fascinating insights into the ideas and concepts of rising entrepreneurs in a traditional economy that has undergone processes of modernization. Historians of Greek economic and social history as well as economists specializing in international trade and business networks will certainly be delighted to read this book.”
Prof. Gad Gilbar, University of Haifa

Nationalism: Past as Prologue

“No-one writes, or thinks, with the same passion, fearlessness and accessibility as Bruce Johansen and Ad Akande, figures who have been speaking truth to power on global environmental and indigenous issues for over forty years. You’re going to scream at this work that nationalism is not all bad, but you’ll also learn much more than you ever expected and finish it determined to make changes and learn more. Enjoy!”
Professor Joy Porter, PI Treatiedspaces.com, Leverhulme Major Research Fellow, Professor of Indigenous History, United Kingdom;
Editor of the Cambridge University Press Series, Elements in Indigenous Environmental Research

Genocide and Geopolitics of the Rohingya Crisis

“In his book, Genocide and Geopolitics of the Rohingya Crisis, the scholar General Aminul Karim uncovers the broader canvas of the topic, painstakingly consulting the plethora of existing literature, interviewing various experts, and offering his own analysis and conclusions. General Karim begins with a background of the Rohingyas in Arakan and of modern Burma including its various insurgencies. He then moves on to the strategic importance of the area. Being resource rich, the oil and gas fields are controlled by an enterprise, in which the senior military officers who run the country have economic interests. Major world powers and big corporations have their eyes on these resources. Added to this is the location along the Bay of Bengal, which is vital for Chinese access to the Indian Ocean. Removing Rohingyas strengthens the control of these forces on the area and consequently, upon the resources. Examining the legal issues in subsequent chapters, the author concludes that the Myanmar regime is certainly guilty of committing genocide, but because Myanmar is not a member of ICC and because implementation of the ICJ decision depends largely on the UNSC, punishment of the perpetrators cannot be guaranteed. Chapters 11 and 12 enter into the main theme of the book—geopolitics, and the possibility of a local Muslim insurgency…In his concluding chapters, through interviews, the author suggests some solutions. Sadiqul Islam of Laurentian University, Canada, considers the expulsion of the Rohingyas into Bangladesh an act of war. Professor Delwar Hossain of Dhaka University thinks even a limited war on this issue is quite unlikely. This reviewer has looked into history, and seen that no such problem involving a crime of genocide has been resolved peacefully. The issue is likely to be prolonged and in such a case, the growth of an insurgency and recruitment of young zealots by international terror groups is a distinct possibility. To resolve the problem, General Karim suggests that great powers like China, Russia, the US, and the UN and other international organizations work together to ensure citizenship for Rohingyas and their repatriation, and federalism and autonomy in Myanmar. Alas, the Myanmar state looks unlikely to proceed this way; nor are the great powers showing any such inclination. The author agrees that this sounds like tall-talks, but he would still like to be optimistic. Unfortunately, going by the proceedings so far, there seems little space for such optimism. All said and done, this book is unique in as much as it has the intellectual dimension of an academic. It also reflects the strategic perspective of a professional who has had a decades-old career in military and security matters. A remarkable work, this book would be useful both for researchers as well as policymakers who can devise strategies to handle the issue in the years to come…READ MORE"
Reviewed by Md Touhid Hossain, Former Foreign Secretary, published in The Daily Star (December 24, 2020)

Perturbation Methods in Matrix Analysis and Control

“The sensitivity of a given mathematical object (or of the corresponding computational problem) is among its most important properties. It shows how the solution of the problem varies under the perturbations of small changes in the data. This property is subject of the so called Perturbation Theory which is widely used in Science and Engineering. In the separate scientific disciplines various perturbation theories have been developed which differ in the problems solved and mathematical methods used, for instance in the Celestial Mechanics, Theory of Nonlinear Oscillations and Control Theory. All these theories are based on the idea to investigate a system whose behavior deviates slightly from the behavior of a simple ideal system for which the full solution of the problem under consideration is known. Perturbation Theory for Linear Operators, which is relevant to the given case, was created by the physicists Strutt and Lord Rayleigh [17] and Schrödinger [16] and the modern perturbation theory for linear operators is developed by Kato [7]…In this book, the authors present new, original results in perturbation linear algebra and control, based on the Method of Splitting Operators and Lyapunov Majorant Functions. Combined with the Schauder or Banach fixed point principles, this method allows to obtain rigorous non-local perturbation bounds for a set of important objects in matrix analysis and control theory. Thus, the perturbation problems in these important fields are investigated in a uniform way, which presents a significant contribution to perturbation theory. As a direction of further work, I would recommend to extend the results obtained to the case of component-wise perturbation analysis in order to find perturbation bounds for the individual super-diagonal elements of the Schur form and for the angles between the perturbed and unperturbed invariant subspaces of the matrix. This will allow to develop full perturbation theory in this important form and go deeper into the properties of the corresponding problems…READ MORE
Reviewed by Ivan Popchev for the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Cybernetics and Information Technologies, Volume 20, No 4, Sofia, 2020

Disciplines of the City: New Forms of Governance in Today’s Postmetropolises

Please click here for a review by Alejandra Ríos Ramírez (Departamento de Gobierno y Ciencias Políticas, Universidad EAFIT- Colombia) published in Daimon International Journal of Philosophy, nº 82 (January-April) 2021.

Please click here for a review by Paula Aguadero Ruiz (Graduada en Humanidades, M. U. en Filosofía, Universidad de Navarra, Pamplona/España) published in Salamanca Notebooks of Philosophy, Vol. 47, 2020, 639-642, ISSN: 0210-4857.

The Thin Pink Line: Regulating Reproduction

"Women’s health has been regulated and politicized for much longer than we like to admit. When we look back through our own history, the truth is both alarming and eye opening. The use of women’s health and reproduction as a political tool has simplified the issue down to abortion access and care. And despite the importance of this topic, and the relevance to modern life, the history of women’s care is so much more than one single political issue. Many of us don’t know the roots of racism and misogyny in medicine and reproductive care. Many of us don’t want to acknowledge the past. As a fertility physician, I see first-hand how the history of women’s health plays a role in our everyday life. This is because reproduction is not talked about. From menstrual cycles, to infertility and miscarriage. The culture of silence and ignorance, which was a part of society long before women started leading conversations, is so ingrained in human behavior that an active movement is needed to discuss the past and change the future. As technology advances faster than research, we must understand the ethical principles that guide us as a field. Honestly, there are parts of this book that are hard for me to read as a gynecologist. Things I know are true, and things I know that I wish were in the past, but sadly are not completely. I have seen women die from lack of medical care, I have taken care of patients who have been victims of female genital mutilation, I have seen the discrimination and hate laid at the feet of a trans person, I’ve watched how we treat our incarcerated, and I’ve had patients sterilized by the government who had no idea the procedure was done. I am a woman who believes in education and empowerment. But this is not just our history, it is also our present. Dr. Curchoe Burton, a reproductive physiologist and senior clinical embryologist, has watched the first stages of life unfold in a dish in the lab. She has seen the ethical debate that exists in the reproductive world when it comes to research, legality of embryos, personhood, and the advancement of technology. If you ever sit in a lab and watch the first cells of human life divide, then you know – there is art in this science. But the responsibility to protect this beauty becomes your burden. We must not let ignorance be the guiding light regulating female reproduction by politicians and those with other motives. In The Thin Pink Line, Dr. Curchoe Burton has given life to something more – a telling of the past, present, and future with precision and an absolute attention to detail, as I know reflects her role overseeing life in the embryology lab. The reproductive world is undergoing an evolution. There is high interest from tech companies and money being funneled into an industry of patient care. The largest network of fertility clinics in the US is led not by physicians, scientists, or embryologists, but by businessmen, and the people who are behind the industry advancing the science in our own IVF labs are all coming from outside medicine. At face value, advancement is always good. More money will be put into development and acquisition and new technology. But respecting research and upholding ethical principles is essential for our own society’s growth. In order to do this, we must collectively understand the history of how we came to be as a field, the origins of women’s health, and how reproduction has been, and continues to be, regulated."
Dr. Natalie M. Crawford, MD, MSCR, FACOG

The Homo within the Sapiens

The Homo within the Sapiens is a very unique book written by Jorge A. Colombo, MD, PhD. The scope of the book is fascinating because in just 107 pages, Dr. Colombo covers the development and evolution of mankind from its early start until the present digital era. The book is very well documented and includes many bibliographic citations. I definitely recommend reading this book.”
Enrique De Argaez, P.E., MBA
Editor of www.internetworldstats.com
Editor, Miniwatts Marketing Group, Internet Marketing Research

“This is another fascinating book by Jorge Colombo, who is one of a rare breed of neuroscientists that takes an interest in the brain not only from a purely biological perspective, but also approaching the origins of human nature from different angles such as the humanities and social sciences. Without a doubt, this is an intriguing combination since it makes us reflect philosophically and scientifically on who we are, where we are going, how we have created this world with its many inequalities, what challenges await us in the future and many other important issues regarding humankind in the context of the present society. I would highly recommend this book.
Javier DeFelipe
Instituto Cajal (CSIC), Madrid
Laboratorio Cajal de Circuitos Corticales
Universidad Politecnica de Madrid, Madrid, Spain

Exploring the Opportunities and Challenges of College Students

Exploring the Opportunities and Challenges of College Students, a book of edited chapters by Seungyeon Lee (2020), is a delightful volume, and allow me to tell you why. It is wonderfully diverse from several different perspectives. The broad topics that you expect to find in a volume about college student success are here, but there are also niche topics that many readers will find innovative. There are chapters about college student mental health, resiliency, achievement, career decision-making, procrastination, motivation, parental influence (including overparenting), substance use, and relationships – all topics that education professionals need to understand about college students. I also appreciated chapter authors who took a deeper dive into narrow topics – like the sophomore slump, how the campus physical environment exerts its own “ambient power,” the benefits to forming a book club for students, how college students struggle spelling difficult words, how on-campus animal-assisted activities influence final exam scores, and how students process grieving when a loved one dies during their college experience. This volume gives you the best of perspectives — the macro and the micro – and the chapters are expertly assembled. I also noticed and appreciated the diversity of methodological approaches used across the chapters. Some of the chapters serve as expert review chapters/updates on a particular topic, other chapters provide the literature review feature and also present new empirical data—quantitative, qualitative, case study, and mixed method approaches were utilized when new data were shared. When you have been in higher education as long as I have (32 years as I write this), there are times when you read a journal article or a book chapter and you are just as impressed by the curated reference citation list as you are by the prose of the text. That was true in many instances in reading this book, particularly for Chapters 5, 7, 13, and 15 – I’m not going to tell you the topics of those chapters in hopes of tempting you further to read the book. Let me also mention another feature of this book I really liked – every chapter has an abstract. I wish all edited books had an abstract or synopsis at the beginning of the chapter – I found that very useful. If you care about college students, you need to read this book. It will provide you with insights about the key areas surrounding college student success and stimulate new ideas about perspectives you may not have considered previously. Seventeen sets of chapter authors have provided you with up-to-date citations and conclusions in areas of importance. I am a fan of the “one good idea” (OGI) approach; that is, if I come away with truly one good idea from a conference, a journal article, a book – then that is a success because truly good ideas are hard to come by (in my opinion). So as I am reading Chapter 2 by Natalie Burick and Crystal Machado, not only do they report on the existing research on the “sophomore slump,” but they also conduct a qualitative study to better understand this phenomenon. They offer specific recommendations for sophomore student success based on the results of their study (presented on p. 29) – I’ve never this type of detailed, excellent recommendations before to specifically counter the sophomore slump. For me (at the very least) that’s my one good idea that I will take away from reading this edited book. What will be yours?”
R. Eric Landrum, PhD
Professor and Chair
Department of Psychological Science
Boise State University, Boise, ID

Geopolitics in the Twenty-First Century: Territories, Identities, and Foreign Policies

“The contributors to this important book recognize that (neo-)classical geopolitics remains the best prism through which to view and understand the global power shifts of the 21st century.”
Francis P. Sempa
Author of Geopolitics: From the Cold War to the 21st Century

“Sir Halford Mackinder the founding father of classical geopolitics articulated its purpose. Ultimately it was to: “give judgement in practical conduct”. This insightful and well researched book underscores his wisdom. Furthermore, it performs two additional functions. First it provides a clear pathway out of the dark valley of critical geopolitics. Secondly, it places an emphasis on the importance of moving beyond the current misinterpretation of geopolitics as a mere synonym of international strategic rivalry. We are presented with a picture of the constellation of forces which exist at a particular time and within a particular geographical frame of reference. The analysis that is delivered enables an understanding of the emerging complexities of international relations. If you want to understand the geopolitical patterns that will dominate the rest of the twenty first century then this book is an excellent place to start.”
Dr. Geoff Sloan
Associate Professor
University of Reading