What Every American Should Know About the Rest of the World
Melissa L. Rossi, 2003
For the second time, we have run into a book on The Reading List that I have only briefly skimmed. This has nothing to do with its quality; it's just a matter of its format and age.
In format, it's basically an almanac. Rossi tours the world, explaining in very readable fashion the current crises besetting each region and the stories of how they came to be this way. The book is organized in an unusual order, from what Rossi sees as the most pressing crisis (Iraq) through to less immediate concerns, so there's quite a bit of regional skipping around. This is no biggy, though, since almanacs aren't really meant to be read cover to cover -- which is one of the reason I am taking a pass on reading What Every American cover to cover.
Too, a book of this type has a very short shelf life. Three years old when it was nominated for The Reading List, it was already a bit long in the tooth; another three and a half years later, it is quite out of date. The historical background information remains valid and relevant, of course, but the crises have moved on. Saddam Hussein is no longer in hiding; there is no longer a jury out on whether or not he'll turn out to have had an arsenal of, what did we call them? WMDs? Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is pretty important to a discussion of Iran these days, but he was still two years from the Presidency when Rossi went to press. Indeed, we've moved on far enough that Rossi's predictions have had time to fail, as predictions tend to do. North Korea has not collapsed! But then, if you had told me in 1998 that North Korea would still have been going strong in 2003, I would have bet against you.
So, we move on.
Next on the Reading List: A Wrinkle in Time! On Deck: Ye Cantebury Tales!