‘The Way of the World’

‘The Way of the World’ came out four years ago when the ways of the world were somewhat different. For one it was just beginning its descent into economic chaos and Bin Laden was still alive. The book focuses mainly on international relations in the post 9/11 era and America’s role in a world that has grown increasingly volatile. That role, argues author Ron Suskind, is much more instrumental than that of any other sovereign nation.

This was a book that I’d begun a year ago, not long before its own lack of annotations loosened its grip on my interest, leading me to believe that it wasn’t a reliable source of the hard facts that I was eager to find at the time.

Yet the book’s strengths lie not in its apparent fact-exposing, which dominates the middle section, but in the equally feature-like way that it tells the stories of relatively ordinary people who are uniquely influenced by the current international climate.

Perhaps most striking is the story of a Middle-Eastern exchange student who adjusts to American culture while his adoptive family does the same with his. The result, though initially hostile, eventually unfolds into a situation that exemplifies all that is possible for the United States and indeed the world through very fundamental practices of diplomacy, mere listening, and recognizing what makes us all human, as opposed to what makes us foreigners to one another.

I avoided reading it this time around not because it lacked any journalistic sense of integrity or scholarship, but because I felt it may have lost its relevance. It may be a fine day when it finally does.

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