This newsletter arrives just as our World Affairs Book Group begins its annual summer break, the perfect time to reflect on the year’s selections. The WAC website contains a wealth of information on the Council and maintains a list of past and current Book Group selections. If you are not a member of the Book Group, it is a great place to find something you might like to read next.


A World in Disarray by Richard Haass distills the wisdom of a man who has been engaged in world affairs for a lifetime.

Currently the President of the Council on Foreign Relations, he has worked in various high level roles with the State Department and National Security Council, as well as academia and think tanks. In his book, he surveys the history of international relations in the last few hundred years and attempts to lay out a reasonable approach to relations going forward.

Our next book was Earning the Rockies: How Geography Shapes America’s Role in the World by Robert Kaplan. Kaplan sets forth on a journey from the East Coast to California. Along the way, he stops in small towns and cities in Middle America and observes the forlorn downtowns and listens to people in coffee shops, bars and restaurants. He sees the slick cities, where talented people migrate, leaving their small towns without fresh leadership. Automation and globalization have hollowed out whole areas of our country, leaving economic ruin in their wake. Meanwhile, those in the slick successful city-states are more connected to the world than the small cities that surround them. As he reaches the West Coast, he sees the Pacific and is reminded that in the future, our role will continue to be as a progressive force in the larger world. Our geography, resources and continental size have determined our place in the world.

Whiplash: How to Survive Our Faster Future by Joi Ito and Jeff Howe is a description of the nine principles that help drive innovation at the Media Lab at MIT and can guide us to surviving the future. These principles include such radical sounding concepts as: Disobedience over Compliance, Risk over Safety and Diversity over Ability. By the time we finished reading the book, these and the other radical sounding concepts began to make perfect sense for our current world. We had also decided that we would all like to actually visit the Media Lab and see it all in action and just soak up that innovative atmosphere.

— Pat Mai





WACSC President Robert W. Kirk has lectured in the South Pacific since 1986. His Ph.D. in history is from UC Davis.  His three books on oceanic history and culture are available on and Barnes & Noble online. 


In late 2012 Paradise Past: The Transformation of the South Pacific, 1520-1920, was published by McFarland Publications. Once the South Seas islands had been found by Europeans, dramatic change was inevitable. Disease, missionaries, firearms, literacy, colonialism, new foods, medical assistance, and then nationalism transformed Pacific cultures immeasurably. 


In 2011 Bob published History of the South Pacific Since 1513: A Chronoicle of Polynesia,Melanesia, Australia,  New  Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and Robinson Crusoe Island. This introduction to a complex topic includes over 1300 significant events since Balboa saw the South Seas.


Pitcairn Island: The Bounty Mutineers and Their Descendents is the most comprehensive history of the dramatic creation of the mutineers' community after deposing Captain Bligh, and what followed to the early 2000s (McFarland, 2008). Bob says he will be delighted to autograph his books for WACSC members.







World Affairs Book Club



Jan. This Brave New World: India, China and the United States

by Anja Manuel


Feb. Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right by Jane Mayer


Mar. A World in Disarray: America Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order by Richard Haass


APR. Earning the Rockies: How Geography Shapes America's Role in the World by Robert Kaplan


May Whiplash: How to Survive Our Faster Future by Joi Ito and Jeff Howe


Jun I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and the Grander View of Life   by Ed Yong


Sep Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by  

Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant



Jan. Saving Capitalism by Robert Reich


Feb. The Brain's Way of Healing by Norman Doidge


Mar. Losing our Way by Bob Herbert


Apr. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates


May  Dreamland: The True Story of America's Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones. 


Jun. Elon Musk: Tesla, Space X, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance


Oct. Farewell Kabul: From Afghanistan To A More Dangerous World by Christina Lamb


Nov. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, Best Seller by J. D. Vance


Dec. Paper: Paging Through History

by Mark Kurlansky




As always, new members and

new ideas are welcome in our book groups.


More information on times and locations of meetings is available through the message center at




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