Revolution for Dummies

December’s Global Forum pick is Revolution for Dummies: Laughing through the Arab Spring by Bassem Yousef. Yousef is a heart surgeon-turned-satirist whose popular Egyptian TV show Al-Bernameg gained a lot of attention and support (and his government’s ire). Dubbed by some “the Jon Stewart of Egypt,” Yousef brought his own humor and criticism to bear during the Egyptian Revolution. In this book, Yousef talks about Egypt, truth, comedy, and how he tried to make a difference in the face of dictators and censorship.


Further Reading – Egypt


Here’s an older interview of Yousef from the Guardian [2013]:


Here’s Yousef’s interview on the Daily Show:


And some articles about what’s happening in Egypt today:


Mubarak just testified in a trial against Morsi, who was unable to respond to questions without permissions from Sisi.


In Egypt, fake news becomes weapon of choice to crush dissent


Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi isn’t like Mubarak. He’s much worse.


For anyone interested in a more detailed report of human rights in Egypt today, check out Human Rights Watch’s 2018 Report


Not about Egypt per se, but for anyone who missed it Time Magazine made journalists the 2018 Person of the Year.

China’s Second Continent

November’s title was China’s Second Continent: How a Million Migrants are Building a New Empire in Africa by Howard French. French travels around Africa to see how a surge in Chinese migration and investment is affecting both those migrants and the countries where they’re headed. A fascinating look at a globalizing world and the people caught up in it.


There are surprisingly few actual books related to Chinese influence abroad (aside from academic titles). Instead of the usual recommended titles list, here is a list of articles that explore Chinese influence abroad.


Articles that you have recommended or were brought up in the discussion [thank you!]:

New York Times – China Rules

MIT Technology Review – Who needs democracy when you have data?


For more about China’s role in Africa:


CNBC (2018) – Indian military scrambles to keep up after China moves to put forces in Africa

CNN (2018) – Employed by China [Interactive about Ethiopia, China, and jobs]

The Economist (2018) – China is broadening its efforts to win over African audiences

Washington Post (2018) – African countries have started to push back against Chinese development aid. Here’s why.



For anyone curious about China’s plans around the world, including it’s One Belt, One Road Initiative, here are a few articles about that: 


The Guardian (2018) – What is China’s Belt and Road Initiative? 

CNBC – The New Silk Road: Ambition and Opportunity [Documentary]

New Yorker – A New Silk Road [With photo gallery]

And here’s the One Belt, One Road Initiative as stated by the Chinese government


And an interesting article about how Chinese trade impacts Gloucester:

Gloucester Daily Times – China tariffs threaten booming lobster business

The Nordic Theory of Everything

Our October book was The Nordic Theory of Everything by Anu Partanen. In it, she compares life, culture, economics, and more between her native Finland and the United States.


Find a list of related readings here.


Anu Partanen  has also written a number of articles and op-eds about some of the topics she covers in the book, which you can check out here:


Next month’s meeting is November 29, when we’ll be discussing China’s Second Continent

The Far Away Brothers

The September selection was The Far Away Brothers by Lauren Markham. Markham follows the story of two twin brothers as they leave their home in El Salvador and take the trek north to America, encountering many dangers along the way and then navigating their new lives in a foreign country – and  adolescence. If you missed the meeting or just have additional thoughts, please comment below!


For anyone looking for related books on the topic of immigration and the border, click here for some suggested titles.


Lauren Markham also gave a recent interview about her book and work (thank you Carolyn!)


Next month’s book is The Nordic Theory of Everything by Anu Partanen.



There Was and There Was Not

August’s selection for Global Forum was There Was and There Was Not: A Journey Through Hate and Possiblity in Turkey, Armenia, and Beyond by Meline Toumani. Toumani writes about exploring the legacy of the Armenian Genocide, from her upbringing in the Armenian diaspora here in the U.S., to travels through Turkey and Armenia. A moving book about history, belonging, and memory. 


For a list of related readings on the topic of the Armenian Genocide, click here.



A few years ago, a billboard put up by a group denying the genocide in Boston caused controversy, which you can read about here.


On a brighter local note, the Armenian memorial and park in Boston has a website here that talks about it and even has events hosted there. Thank you Susan for mentioning this!



The church in Lake Van Toumani visits and discusses has an entry in Atlas Obscura with great photos, here. (Thank you Betsy)