Backfire: How Sanctions Reshape the World Against U.S. Interests

Columbia Univ. Nov. 2022. 304p. ISBN 9780231199902. $30. POL SCI
In her first monograph, Demarais (global forecasting dir., Economist Intelligence Unit) joins a crowded conversation about international sanctions. She utilizes a wide geopolitical lens to explore the broad and subtle impact of U.S. sanctions over the past two decades. Like most works on the topic, this book focuses on the intended utility of sanctions, yet refreshingly takes equal time to highlight the unintended effects and undeserving victims. A considerable amount of the discussion concerns Russia, China, Iran, and Korea, but other impacted regions are not forgotten or neglected. Most notable is Chapter 10 on technology, questioning whether export controls might be the sanctions of the future. Worthy of mention, the work is truly a scholarly work written with academic rigor, as evidenced by pages of primary and secondary sources. Overall, anyone interested in sanctions, especially those implemented by the United States and the broader impact of the economic tool should explore this very current and thoughtful work.
VERDICT This book is a broad and welcome examination of sanctions and will be appreciated by both the general reader and serious scholar, which makes it a perfect addition to economic and policy collections.
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