Global Counsel Holiday Reading List 2021

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 also share the list with our network in what has become a staple of GC holiday communications. 

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.

Jack Keevill – Senior Associate

Gaming the media

Ludovic Zanker spent over a decade presenting himself to the world’s media as a hyper-connected international power broker. He wasn’t. But he sort of got away with it. 

Read Faking it: the man who tried to game the media system

India Lucas – Senior Associate

Theranos on trial

In 2018, Elizabeth Holmes was one of the world’s youngest self-made female billionaires. In September 2021, her trial on 11 counts of fraud for deceiving investors and patients began. Season 2 of Bad Blood follows the trial, and asks what the implications are for Silicon Valley, how start-ups raise investment and the obligations of tech founders.

Listen to Bad Blood

Isabelle Trick – Senior Associate

Exploring the impact of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan

The moving recording of a real phone call made by a young man trying to get his family onto a plane at Kabul airport is at the heart of this episode of This American Life. By zeroing in on one individual’s story it viscerally brings to life the chaos of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the impact it had on those left behind.

Listen to Getting Out  

Alexander Smotrov – Practice Lead, CEE, Russia and Eurasia

Pocket money for rocket men

This story resulted from a six-month investigation led by the award-winning journalist Ed Caesar. It describes a bunch of tactics used by North Korean hackers – from bank heists to cryptocurrency thefts – to fund the country’s missile programme.

Read The Incredible Rise of North Korea’s Hacking Army

Michaela Smart – Associate 

Orangutans on the building

Against a backdrop of activism on environmental sustainability and economic justice, this article looks at a Chapter from Rebecca Henderson’s Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire, examining when business self-regulation does and does not work, and the reasons why. 

Read Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire

Alex Dawson – Practice Lead, UK Politics and Policy

Primary sourcing

It is easy to forget the power of innovations we take for granted. It is harder to understand how they came about. This piece on Wikipedia provides an excellent breakdown of one of the internet’s great successes that we often overlook.

Read Happy 20th Anniversary, Wikipedia!

Rebecca Park – Senior Practice Lead, Financial Services

Swift changes

The Pay-Off avoids much of the hyperbole that has been written about future of payments and the role of “crypto” in disrupting the way we pay. Grounded in an overview of one of the least glamourous, but arguably the most critical parts of international finance this book provides an insight into the global political and financial importance of Swift and how modern technology poses future political and economic challenges for how cross-border money might flow. 

Read The Pay Off: How Changing the Way We Pay Changes Everything

Jon Garvie - Practice Lead, International Policy

Ones and Tooze

The British economic historian Adam Tooze has had a prolific year. His book, ‘Shutdown’, may well prove the definitive contemporary account of the pandemic and his ‘foreign policy’ hosted podcast demystifies the global economy - from bond market vigilantes to Evergrande - with exceptional clarity and rigour. 

Visit Adam Tooze’s chartbook

Denzil Davidson - Adviser

Facing up to the UK’s real choices in the world

In Hard Choices Peter Ricketts, who’s held some of the biggest jobs in Whitehall, gives a clear-eyed view of the UK’s actual standing in the world. He deplores successive governments’ lack of long-term thinking and explains the importance for a mid-tier power of the power of example and the ability to generate ideas.

Read Hard Choices

Nick Hendrix – Associate 

Social lubricant

With the pandemic forcing many people to reconsider their alcohol consumption, this article asks whether a tipple – in moderation - can lead to innovation and creativity and strengthen social ties at a time when bonds have been broken. 

Read America Has a Drinking Problem

Andrew Yeo – Practice Lead, Asia

The concept of Southeast Asia

A historical take on the newness of Southeast Asia and why the region struggled for thousands of years to develop a common identity due to its diverse religions, tongues and geographies. Eminent historian Wang Gungwu argues that the development of trade routes and arrival of Western colonial powers congealed an identity when there was none, which in turn has modern day implications for how China now views the region.

Read China, ASEAN and the new Maritime Silk Road


Isadora Arredondo – Senior Associate

Invisible cash

This article explores a phenomenon referred to as "the paradox of bank notes"; whereby the demand for bank notes has constantly increased while its use in everyday transactions has continued to decline. It also sheds light into some very innovative forms of hiding and storing cash.

Read Billions of banknotes are missing. Why does nobody care?

Mark Loughridge – Senior Associate

How they built the EU

Marxist grandee Perry Anderson delivers a controversial yet thought-provoking series of essays on the origins of Europe’s major institutions. If you’ve ever wondered how a blackcurrant liqueur was leveraged to help build the single market, look no further than ‘Ever closer union?’

Read Ever Closer Union?

Miranda Lutz – Senior Associate

Cyberweapons – one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse 

This is the startling history of how the US government’s early underground purchases of zero day vulnerabilities helped contribute to the current state of cyber insecurity. While the book spans decades of the government’s role in cyberweapons development, it is the fact that despite the rise in persistent threats and major cyberattacks many of the policy dynamics remain the same. If you patch a software gap you can no longer weaponize it - even though maintaining the vulnerability could put millions of devices and people at risk. 

Listen to author Nicole Perlroth discuss This is How They Tell Me the World Ends


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