What We Are Reading Today: To Build a Better World

Updated 01 October 2019

What We Are Reading Today: To Build a Better World

Authors: Philip Zelikow and Condoleezza Rice

Timed for the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, To Build a Better World is an authoritative depiction of contemporary statecraft. 
Two of America’s leading scholar-diplomats, Philip Zelikow and Condoleezza Rice, have combed sources in several languages, interviewed leading figures, and drawn on their own firsthand experience to bring to life the choices that molded the contemporary world.
Beginning in the late 1970s and carrying into the present, they focus on the momentous period between 1988 and 1992, when an entire world system changed, states broke apart, and societies were transformed.
“It lets readers in on the strategies and negotiations, nerve-racking risks, last-minute decisions, and deep deliberations behind the dramas that changed the face of Europe — and the world — forever,” said a review in goodreads.com.
In a review for The New York Times, James Traub said: “In the run-up to the war in Iraq, Rice ignored warnings from the same veterans of 1989 whom she praises so lavishly in To Build a Better World.”


What We Are Reading Today: The Seine: The River That Made Paris by Elaine Sciolino

Updated 09 November 2019

What We Are Reading Today: The Seine: The River That Made Paris by Elaine Sciolino

The Seine: The River That Made Paris is a wonderful book from Elaine Sciolino that takes readers on a journey along the Seine river, through France’s fascinating history and a thousand little anecdotes that fill it with life. 

The book “tells the story of the Seine’s origin, its little known source in Burgundy, and the goddess that gave the river its name,” said a review in goodreads.com. 

It also “tells the stories of dozens of fascinating characters that have spent their lives on, around and along the river,” the review added.

It said “Sciolino met with people living on their boats, fishermen, the river police, the firefighters who put out the fire in the Notre Dame Cathedral using water from the Seine, and many more.” 

The characters “come to live with her skillful writing and share their stories of how the Seine has shaped their lives,” said the review.

Sciolino is a writer and former Paris Bureau Chief for The New York Times, based in France since 2002. 

She contributes to The New York Times’ Food, Culture, Styles and Sunday Review sections.