Holiday Gifts for Expats and Global Citizens: 10 Great Books from 2017

Chad Creveling |

By Peggy Creveling, CFA, and Chad Creveling, CFA

As you look for a holiday gift for your favorite expat or perhaps just for some interesting reading over the holidays, have a look through our annual list of highly rated books from 2017, especially selected with the expat reader in mind. All can be easily purchased on the internet, and while some are more serious, others are just for fun. For those expats who may live far away, all of these titles have a digital version available, which makes getting them to your friend or loved one that much easier.


  1. The Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston. Since the days of conquistador Hernán Cortés, rumors have circulated about a lost city of immense wealth hidden somewhere in the Honduran interior, called the White City or the Lost City of the Monkey God. … In 1940, swashbuckling journalist Theodore Morde returned from the rainforest with hundreds of artifacts and an electrifying story of having found the Lost City of the Monkey God—but then committed suicide without revealing its location. Three quarters of a century later, best-selling author Doug Preston joined a team of scientists on a groundbreaking new quest. "Deadly snakes, flesh-eating parasites, and some of the most forbidding jungle terrain on earth were not enough to deter Douglas Preston from a great story." ―The Boston Globe

  2. World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech by Franklin Foer. Without pausing to consider the cost, the world has rushed to embrace the products and services of four titanic corporations. We shop with Amazon; socialize on Facebook; turn to Apple for entertainment; and rely on Google for information. … As these companies have expanded, marketing themselves as champions of individuality and pluralism, their algorithms have pressed us into conformity and laid waste to privacy. ... At stake is nothing less than who we are, and what we will become. “World Without Mind is a searing take, a polemic packed with urgency and desperation that, for all its erudition and eloquence, is not afraid to roll up its sleeves and make things personal.” —NPR.org

  3. The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a Global World by Maya Jasanoff. Migration, terrorism, the tensions between global capitalism and nationalism, and a communications revolution: these forces shaped Joseph Conrad’s destiny at the dawn of the twentieth century. … In a compelling blend of history, biography, and travelogue, Maya Jasanoff follows Conrad’s routes and the stories of his four greatest works—The Secret Agent, Lord Jim, Heart of Darkness, and Nostromo. Genre-bending, intellectually thrilling, and deeply humane, The Dawn Watch embarks on a spell-binding expedition into the dark heart of Conrad’s world—and through it to our own. “Enlightening, compassionate, superb.” —John Le Carré, author

  4. Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap? by Graham Allison. China and the United States are heading toward a war neither wants. The reason is Thucydides’s Trap, a deadly pattern of structural stress that results when a rising power challenges a ruling one. … The eminent Harvard scholar Graham Allison explains why Thucydides’s Trap is the best lens for understanding U.S.-China relations. … Through uncanny historical parallels and war scenarios, he shows how close we are to the unthinkable. … Allison also reveals … what painful steps the United States and China must take to avoid disaster today. “I read the book with great interest. I can only hope that the US-China relationship becomes the fifth case to resolve itself peacefully, rather than the 13th to result in war.” —Henry Kissinger, former US Secretary of State

  5. Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser. Millions of readers of Little House on the Prairie believe they know Laura Ingalls―the pioneer girl who survived blizzards and near-starvation on the Great Plains. … But the true saga of her life has never been fully told. … Wilder’s real life was harder and grittier. … Spanning nearly a century of epochal change, from the Indian Wars to the Dust Bowl, Wilder’s dramatic life provides a unique perspective on American history and our national mythology of self-reliance. “Engrossing … Exhilarating … Lovers of the series will delight in learning about real-life counterparts to classic fictional episodes, but, as Fraser emphasizes, the true story was often much harsher.” —Publishers Weekly

  6. Secrecy World: Inside the Panama Papers Investigation of Illicit Money Networks and the Global Elite by Jake Bernstein. A hidden circulatory system flows beneath the surface of global finance, carrying trillions of dollars from drug trafficking, tax evasion, bribery, and other illegal enterprises. … In Secrecy World, the Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter Jake Bernstein explores this shadow economy and how it evolved, drawing on millions of leaked documents from the files of the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. Bernstein traveled to the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, and within the United States to uncover how these strands fit together. Secrecy World offers a disturbing and sobering view of how the world really works and raises critical questions about financial and legal institutions we may once have trusted. “Bernstein does first-rate work in providing a map to a scandal that has yet to unfold completely.” ―Kirkus Reviews

  7. The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia by Masha Gessen. “Ambitious, timely, insightful and unsparing … By far Gessen’s best book, a sweeping intellectual history of Russia over the past four decades, told through a Tolstoyan gallery of characters. … What makes the book so worthwhile … are its keen observations about Russia from the point of view of those experiencing its return to a heavy-handed state. It helps that Gessen is a participant, and not just an observer, able to translate that world adeptly for Western readers. … You feel right there on the streets.” —Washington Post

  8. Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction by Derek Thompson. Nothing “goes viral.” If you think a popular movie, song, or app came out of nowhere to become a word-of-mouth success in today’s crowded media environment, you’re missing the real story. … Shattering the sentimental myths of hit-making that dominate pop culture and business, Thompson shows quality is insufficient for success, nobody has "good taste," and some of the most popular products in history were one bad break away from utter failure. It may be a new world, but there are some enduring truths to what audiences and consumers want. “Superb.” —Fareed Zakaria, Book of the Week selection

  9. Black Edge: Inside Information, Dirty Money, and the Quest to Bring Down the Most Wanted Man on Wall Street by Sheelah Kolhatkar. The story of the billionaire trader Steven A. Cohen, the rise and fall of his hedge fund, SAC Capital, and the largest insider trading investigation in history—for readers of The Big Short, Den of Thieves, and Dark Money and fans of Showtime’s Billions. … Black Edge offers a revelatory look at the gray zone in which so much of Wall Street functions, and a window into the transformation of the U.S. economy. It’s a riveting, true-life legal thriller that takes readers inside the government’s pursuit of Cohen and his employees, and raises urgent questions about the power and wealth of those who sit at the pinnacle of modern Wall Street. “A richly reported, entertaining tale about the cat-and-mouse game between the government and Cohen.”—Andrew Ross Sorkin, The New York Times Book Review

  10. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson. What is the nature of space and time? How do we fit within the universe? How does the universe fit within us? There’s no better guide through these mind-expanding questions than acclaimed astrophysicist and best-selling author Neil deGrasse Tyson. … Astrophysics for People in a Hurry will reveal just what you need to be fluent and ready for the next cosmic headlines: from the Big Bang to black holes, from quarks to quantum mechanics, and from the search for planets to the search for life in the universe. “With wry humor, keen vision, and abundant humanity, Neil deGrasse Tyson distills the big questions of space, time, and reality into short, insightful chapters you can enjoy with your morning coffee.” —Discover