Global Counsel Holiday Reading List 2020

General Policy

At the end of each year, the Global Counsel team has a tradition of sharing among ourselves a selection of our favourite articles (or podcasts) from the past year for Christmas consumption. We started sharing the list with our network in 2017, and the response has been positive enough for us to continue. 

Some of this informs our day jobs, but most of it can also be filed against the (very) interesting times we live in. We hope you enjoy it. And do feel free to send us your own suggestions.

Happy Holidays from all at Global Counsel.

Ermenegilda Boccabella - Practice Lead, Energy

When Britain went global

Britain’s global history has often been invoked in the debate over its exit from the EU. This series looks at the politics and stories behind some of the things the British ‘acquired’ as they built their empire.

Listen to Stuff the British Stole

Elly Darkin - Associate

Greetings from 2023

Economist Mariana Mazzucato gives us a snapshot into the year 2023. It’s a bumpy road ahead – with corporate bailouts, public protests and climate crises all playing their part. But things do get better.

Read It's 2023. Here's How We Fixed the Global Economy

Benjamin Wegg-Prosser - Managing Director

Examining the special relationship

A reflective and honest assessment of the US and UK’s path toward the second Iraq war. Anyone who lived through those times will recall the headlines and the passion. This series is a chance to hear from the principals on what they were thinking at the time. 

Listen to The Fault Line: Bush, Blair and Iraq

Miranda Lutz - Senior Associate

The forgotten lives at sea

As the pandemic raged and many of us turned to shopping from home, little thought was given to some of the harsh realities behind global maritime supply chains. But the pandemic has put the shipping industry under significant strain – which this article explores.

Read Worst Shipping Crisis in Decades Puts Lives and Trade at Risk

Kirstie Hepburn - Practice Lead, Programming

Making Marcel waves in the White House

It is never just hair. First Lady haircuts are a political construct, semaphore for their husband’s public standing. When Obama said Michelle’s new bangs were the most significant event on the eve of his second inauguration, he may not have been joking. 

Read The history of First Ladies’ hairstyles, untangled

Joe Palombo - Practice Lead, Global Investor Services

The baby blue blood that saves us all

Covid-19 vaccines are miracles of modern-day science. But did you know you have a 450m year old arthropod to thank for vaccine safety? This fascinating Radiolab podcast explains it all. You’ll never look at the ocean the same way again.

Listen to Baby Blue Blood Drive

Denzil Davidson - Practice Lead, Financial Services & EU institutions

Macron’s theory of a sovereign Europe

In this long interview Emmanuel Macron sets out a coherent philosophy for the EU’s future. Some fellow leaders will be pleased, others not by his claim that the EU’s Recovery Fund was a decision to create a transfer Union that will be, by implication, permanent.

Read The Macron Doctrine: A conversation with the French president

Matilda Milne - Senior Associate

The people’s podcast

Princess Diana has always been an icon, but series 4 of The Crown has triggered a new burst of interest in her life and personality. This series explores the woman behind the headlines, framing her life in a new cultural context with the benefit of hindsight. It also puts some conspiracy theories to bed.

Listen to You’re Wrong About

Lilah Howson-Smith - Senior Associate

A lesson in town planning

This year has been marked by the importance of place. We in the UK watched our streets clap for carers and now we feverishly check which localised restrictions apply. This article about one garden village is a reminder that the history of a place shapes and marks its demographic and economic present.

Read Idealism, secrets and paranoia in Burnage Garden Village

Erin Caddell - President, Global Counsel USA

A Gentleman in Moscow: A lyrical take on lockdown

This elegiac 2016 novel takes on an added dimension in the covid-19 age. A Stalin-era Russian dissident is sentenced to lifetime house arrest in an historic hotel. Author Amor Towles finds beauty in confinement. You’ll see your cramped home office in a new light.

Read A Gentleman in Moscow

Andrew Yeo - Senior Associate

From field to wok – regionalism and food in Southeast Asia

Singapore’s multicultural identity is closely linked to the diversity and colour of cuisines first harvested and processed in neighbouring countries. This article explores threats to this as food security and climate change concerns become part of national agendas, and how multilateral frameworks are trying to address this in their promotion of regional trade.

Read A piece of Southeast Asia in a Singapore dish

Carolina Saludes - Marketing Lead

A lock-in at Harvard

After Hours is the more relaxed of the HBR podcast offering. Three professors from the business school, friends of 20+ years, discuss everything from economics and earnings calls to book reviews and baking recipes. I have found them a welcome counterpoint to this year's anxieties.

Listen to HBR After Hours podcast

Ana Mendes - Research Analyst

Novel mutation leads to pain insensitivity

Forget paracetamol, all you need is a microdeletion in the pain-sensation gene, FAAH. Detected for the first time in a woman who feels no pain, this discovery dramatically illustrates the clinical potential of gene therapy to target pain, anxiety and depression.

Read The Case of a Woman Who Feels Almost No Pain Leads Scientists to a New Gene Mutation

Isabelle Trick - Senior Associate

A warning from the past

I listened to Dispatches from 1918 when the first wave of covid-19 subsided in the UK and it stuck with me. It was a fascinating examination of how the Spanish Flu changed society, art, politics – and a prescient warning of the potential deadliness of the second wave.

Listen to Dispatches from 1918

Alex Dawson - Practice Lead, UK Politics and Policy

Good news bears

Criticism is an art, and this review has stuck with me. In a year when issues of liberty and protection were pressed to the front of our lives, the bears of New Hampshire felt like an apt metaphor.

Read The Town That Went Feral

Tom King - Practice Lead, Political Due Diligence

Unjust deserts

2020 threw socio-economic inequalities into starker relief, wrecking many lives that had been carefully built. Michael Sandel’s searing, timely attack on the ‘tyranny of merit’ highlights the devastating social consequences of the belief that we get what we deserve, proposing an alternative approach to justice that encourages humility.

Listen to The Tyranny of Merit

Freddie Michell - Associate

Opening the door on depression

For anyone interested in the man and the condition, Alistair Campbell’s Living Better is a candid and positive assessment of his own battles with depression and how it shaped his political career.

Read Alastair Campbell: ‘I’ve finally learned to live with my enemy’

Alexander Smotrov - Practice Lead, CEE/Russia/Eurasia

The importance of giving space

In the year when Kyrgyzstan was in the news mostly due to further political turmoil and the recognition of gender diversity reached new heights, this beautifully crafted award-winning documentary combines all these themes into a very touching “per aspera ad astra” style story.

Read Women Make Science: Kyrgyzstan’s Space School

Brigitta Kinadi - Senior Associate

Thailand’s year of turmoil

As Thailand grapples with multiple crises – the pandemic, economic downturn, and a growing protest movement - this article looked at the country’s scandal-ridden king and the alarming moves he has made to consolidate political and military power.

Read Thailand’s king seeks to bring back absolute monarchy

Ryan Kueh - Research Analyst

The social and genetic implications of ‘race’

David Reich used this article to probe what he sees as an over-rigid orthodoxy about genetic variation amongst ‘races’. In a careful analysis on sensitive ground, he warns of the social consequences of ignoring such genetic differences.

Read How Genetics Is Changing Our Understanding of ‘Race’


The views expressed in this note can be attributed to the named author(s) only.