And now, suggestions from our editors:
The book may end with Obama leaving office, but the implications of its findings don’t. Indeed, Tesler’s book shows us how much Obama’s presidency was connected to the rise of Trump. Most notably, the Obama presidency witnessed the movement of white voters to the Republican Party — in particular, white voters who did not have a college degree and had unfavorable views about African Americans. This arguably helped a Republican candidate like Trump, whose support during both the primary and the general election was strongly tied to racial attitudes. In a prescient sentence, Tesler writes “Obama’s race may, therefore, continue to influence mass assessments of presidential candidates and presidents in both 2016 and beyond.”
Finally, for the intelligent news consumer in your life, a year’s subscription to the Browser is unbeatable. Every day, the Browser’s proprietor (a former journalist for the Economist) sifts the Internet for four or five interesting and unexpected pieces; every day he finds gold nuggets and river pearls.
Marc Lynch: Before the presidential election, I recommended three wildly entertaining, politically relevant series of graphic novels: Dave Sim’s Cerebus, especially the “High Society” arc; DMZ by Brian Woods and Riccardo Burchielli; and Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson. All three will be only more resonant since Trump’s election. Let’s hope that the American media can live up to the standards of Ellis’s crusading journalist Spider Jersualem, with or without the bowel disruptor gun.
And, finally, spare a thought over the holidays for the urgent humanitarian needs of people suffering from the unending wars in Syria and Yemen. I donate to the Karam Foundation and Save the Children, but there are many humanitarian organizations working to deal with Syria’s and Yemen’s human tragedy who need whatever help they can get.
Vanessa Lide: Need a last-minute gift for a historian, political scientist, an armchair diplomat? Browse Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy online Case Study Library and download a PDF from more than 240 case studies in diplomacy and negotiation. Voila! No wrapping paper needed.
Written by senior practitioners directly involved in the events, ISD case studies tell compelling stories of both successful and unsuccessful negotiations, and reveal the dynamics and nuance of diplomacy in action. Or pick out a simulation exercise and get the whole crowd negotiating a peace settlement — a great start to 2017!
(Full disclosure: Monkey Cage Associate Editor Vanessa Lide is the ISD’s case study editor.)
Danny Hayes: Giving your special someone a movie about American political campaigns at the end of 2016 is likely to get you a lump of coal in return. But after they watch “Last Man Standing: Politics — Texas Style,” they’ll thank you (and you can magnanimously accept their apology).
But the film, directed by Paul Stekler, isn’t just entertaining. We also get a glimpse of how different the vast majority of American political campaigns are from presidential contests. The candidates transport their own yard signs and knock on doors. There are no campaign buses; they drive pickup trucks (different brands, of course). And set against the backdrop of a rapidly diversifying Texas, we see the political consequences of social and demographic change. In that respect, this 12-year-old movie has much to tell us about our current politics.
Joshua Tucker: Yes, 2016 may not have been the greatest year ever from a political (or musical) perspective, but at least the moon didn’t explode. And while that may not seem like a big deal at the moment, you’ll have a totally different perspective after reading Neal Stephenson’s amazing “Seveneves: A Novel.” This book is one of my favorite recent reads, especially if you have a desire for both astrophysics and politics in one place.
Regardless of one’s political persuasion, hopefully everyone can agree that two weeks of summer camp in the mountains — and away from all forms of media, social and otherwise — is wonderful experience for every child. Unfortunately, not all families can afford the cost of sending a child to camp. So if you’ve enjoyed reading our blog over the years but always thought “What can I do to thank the authors/editors of it for all the time they put into it?” this particular co-author/editor would be incredibly grateful for a donation of any size to help send kids to camp at Frost Valley YMCA.
Finally, although it won’t be out until May, it’s hard to imagine just how big the smile will be on the faces of your friends and family knowing that they’ve had a copy of Communism’s Shadow preordered for them! Just saying …
Oh, and if you’d rather panic about the future, watch “Occupied,” a Norwegian series on Netflix documenting an imaginary ‘soft’ Russian takeover of the country.
Laura Seay: I spent half of 2016 doing field research in and dragging luggage through 12 countries. To that end, my gift suggestions this year are for those political scientists and family members you know who might be doing the same and are looking for practical, lightweight items that make the task of travel a little less daunting.
The Huzi Infinity Pillow is neither compact nor does it pack small, but it’s the only travel pillow I’ve ever found that blocks out enough light and sound to get some sleep on long, overnight flights full of overly chatty passengers. I tie it to the outside of my carry-on, and it’s worth every bit of trouble. Combined with Bose’s in-ear QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones, I am able to sleep soundly onboard and hit the ground running for interviews and site visits on arrival.
In an ideal world, I can fit all my gear into a carry-on, but when that won’t work and I have to check a bag, the Trakdot luggage tracker is indispensable. For $40 and a modest annual fee, the battery-powered Trakdot uses local cellphone networks around the world to determine where your bag is at any given time, sending you updates by email or text every time the bag lands at a new airport. Trakdot is how I knew where my lost luggage was on one trip last spring when my airline didn’t, and I was able to ensure its recovery because of that fact.
We at TMC wish you and yours a very happy holiday season!