Book Reviews

Book Reviews

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

A thought provoking read on a broad range of topics related to women’s health told through the lens of patient advocacy and social justice. The Thin Pink Line is fascinating and covers a wide range of controversial topics.”
Eve C. Feinberg, MD., Associate Professor Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, REI Fellowship Program Director, Past-President of the Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility

“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. 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.”
Dr. Natalie M. Crawford, MD. Board Certified Obstetrician and Gynecologist and Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility and Director of Patient Experience and Education and Co-Founder of Fora Fertility, Host and Creator of “As A Woman” podcast

“Dr. Carol Lynn (Curchoe) Burton’s The Thin Pink Line: Regulating Reproduction is a brave and honest look at where we have been, so we can figure out where we want to go. You will be thinking about these topics long after you have finished the last page.”
Allison K. Rodgers, MD, Board Certified Obstetrician and Gynecologist and Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, Medical Contributor for Beat Infertility Podcast, Women’s Health Advocate

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
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

Science Teaching and Learning: Practices, Implementation and Challenges

"The organizations, corporations, and countries that can acquire human talent in various science disciplines may attain competitive advantages over others. They may contribute to the solving of hard problems. They may create monetizable products and services related to innovations. They may cobble capabilities that others may not. Science is a superpower that may be deployed to solve mass-scale challenges and meet the needs of society (and humanity). How to develop science knowledge and skills becomes an important question. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, in combination with other academic learning, is critical to societal advancement and the well-being of citizenry. Paul J. Hendricks, editor of Science Teaching and Learning: Practices, Implementation and Challenges, focuses on some effective practices for science teaching and learning from K12 through higher education. This book contributes some strong cues for improvement of science teaching and didactics in its five chapters. The respective researchers who contributed to this collection maintained high standards in their work and documented their ideas closely...READ MORE"
Shalin Hai-Jew for C2C Digital Magazine (Fall 2020/Winter 2021)
Instructional Designer/Researcher
Kansas State University

Contextualizing Teaching to Improve Learning: The Case of Science and Geography

"Laurinda Leite, Luís Dourado, Ana S. Afonso, and Sofia Morgado’s Contextualizing Teaching to Improve Learning: The Case of Science and Geography makes the case for people integrating science knowledge, skills, and abilities into their daily lives as citizens and individuals. In the Foreword, Derek Hodson points to large-scale hard problems being faced by humanity: “deforestation and increasing desertification, acid rain, pollution of waterways, ozone depletion, climate change, soil loss, loss of biodiversity, exhaustion of many natural resources, explosive population growth” and societal disparities “in terms of income, access to proper housing, food and water security, educational opportunity, health care, freedom, justice and safety” (2017, p. vii). Together, these issues are referred to as Socio-Scientific Issues (SSI), and the idea is that area issues in one cannot be solved without the other. This edited collection makes a solid case for contextualizing science learning in a way that learners can see the relevance in their own daily lives and can apply the learning to their citizenship behaviors...READ MORE"
Shalin Hai-Jew for C2C Digital Magazine (Fall 2020/Winter 2021)
Instructional Designer/Researcher
Kansas State University

Paradigms of Freedom

“This is an exciting book. It makes the reader think. The author takes the reader through the modern history of Europe from early modern times to the 20th century in just five chapters. Conventionally, he commences the early modern period with the 16th century and the Age of Reformation. Each subsequent chapter takes the reader through time, century by century: Religion and the Age of Science (17th century); Justice and the Age of Enlightenment (18th century); Romanticism and Aspiration (19th century); Conflict, depression and sorrow (20th century). Chronologically there is an overlap in time with long and short centuries, but few would disagree with the author’s broad summary of each century. It is difficult to place the book within any particular genre. In his preface the author admits: ‘This not a history but a consideration of mankind’s search to be free, and how this striving is embodied in the poetry of liberation.’ This aphorism is not confined to poets. Perhaps that is why Nova has published the work in its World Philosophy series. Yet this is not a conventional philosophy book which at a scholarly level would separately consider each philosopher and ignore art. This is an insightful book worthy of reading and reflection…READ MORE
Ian Rogers
Historian and Theologian, University of London

“Letellier, in the Introduction to his major work “Paradigms of Freedom”, quotes Rousseau, ‘Man was born free, yet everywhere is in chains’. This recognition of human suffering, in all its various forms, is heightened by Christianity, the faith of Europe, which dignified mankind as being born in the image of God and on a lifetime journey to God. This dissonance seared European thought and society, and Letellier, in this monumental work, explores through European artists, philosophers, theologians and politicians, what he describes as the age of renaissance, reformation, revolution and romanticism. The Introduction ends with transcendent images of hope. From Jacob’s Ladder God comes to man to gift peace and unity, in contrast to the futility of a man-made utopia, while from ancient Greece, Pegasus points man to the transcendent vectors of wisdom, fame and poetry. In what is a monumental work, of 400 pages, Letellier produces a history of Europe that integrates historical events in the context of the arts (literature, paintings, poetry, theatre and opera), philosophy, political and religious movements, but crucially Letellier embeds it in the people involved. As the contents page indicates the scope of the work is immense and makes a concise summary almost impossible. However, his authoritative references to Sir Walter Scott, illustrate his comprehensive knowledge because he combines the covenanting history of Presbyterian Scotland, with Scott’s literary and poetic output, but then writes of the major impact Scott had on the world of opera. This is a thoroughly researched, referenced and illustrated work which is an invaluable cornucopia to academics and students, and those seeking knowledge of the arts, philosophy and history. It will be a welcome addition to any library.”
Robert Gibson
Department of Civil Engineering, The University of the West of Scotland

This book provides a comprehensive and integrated approach to European thought—politics, literature, art, opera—as they relate to the concept of freedom. Letellier frames his work around the exposition of Friedrich Schiller and Sir Walter Scott, pivotal players who bridge the Enlightenment and Romanticism, and their exploration of freedom as manifest in their art. Letellier hits his stride in chapter four, beginning with Walter Scott’s poetry and novels, confronting the tensions of nationalism and personal freedom, “a romantic allegiance to a dangerous but attractive past and the more prosaic but rational present.” Virtually all artistic endeavour, somewhere along the line, takes a turn towards tragedy, that reflects the sorrow of the human condition. From the Greek mythos to Enlightenment philosophy, from 20th century absurdism and existentialism, to pessimism at hopelessness of man’s yearning for freedom in the ‘conflict, sorrow and depression’ of the 20th century. In summary, what is freedom but the power to think and to act as an individual? To embark on that most human journey: the quest for personal distinctiveness…READ MORE
John Hartley
Theologian and Travel Writer, Maryvale Institute, Birmingham

"This fascinating selection of essays is published under Nova’s World Philosophy series. Those who know Robert Letellier’s’ huge scope of interest, and his ability to write elegant biographies, scholarly musical treatises from compilations of biblical associations through to a magnificent source book on operetta, and historical enquires, especially with Romantic themes embracing literature, music and the fine arts, will welcome this edition of his personal evaluation of the concept of freedom. The book is no conventional time travel, but an “investigation of the major gestures of freedom” and “certain decisive events” from the 16th through to the 20th century. The works of Friedrich Schiller and Sir Walter Scott feature prominently, but within the first few pages we meet the likes of St Francis, Luther, Bach, Hans Sachs and the legendary Johann Georg Faust. Shortly after several artists appear (Cranach, Dürer, Bosch and Brueghel to name a few), and thinkers such as Voltaire who laid the foundations of contests between state and church and kindled growing conflicts between the latter and the emergent empiricism of science. Letellier’s way of amalgamating times and places is seen for example in the chapter on ‘Religion and the Age of Science’. Galileo and Kepler are imbricated with the works of the composer Paul Hindemith and the playwright Berthold Brecht, with real treats such as Johann Strauss and Grimmelshausen [Grimmel who?]: he wrote one of the most significant novels the 30 years’ war Abenteuerlicher Simplicius Simplicissimus).If you want a synopsis of the political and religious history of the events leading to the English Civil war and its aftermath, or the shaded lights of women at the time, read about Margaret Cavendish Duchess of Newcastle, and Marie-Madeleine Comtesse de Lafayette. The two chapters Justice and the Age of Enlightenment (The 18th Century), and Romanticism and Aspiration (The 19th century) (the era of revolutions) are stunning accounts of those exciting times of conflict between ideals as personalities, places and politics refine every page forming the emerging bulwark of what Letellier refers to, in his last chapter, as The 20th Century: Conflict, Depression and Sorrow. Discussions about freedom so often get closed down to a few moments and places (French Revolution), a few names (music: Beethoven, Literature Byron). But the worldwide and enduring thrust for Romanticism and the longing for freedom from oppression has been global and enduring. Those who today have similar aspirations can always learn from the past, and will savour the deep insights of Letellier’s elegant and thought-provoking narrative. Nova have produced a fine book: a lively cover embraces a text which is well set out and easy to read, embellished with many relevant illustrations which is nice to hold and have nearby. 'This is not a history but a consideration of mankind’s search to be free…'."
Professor Michael Trimble
Emeritus Professor in Behavioural Neurology
UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
Faculty of Brain Sciences