The 5 Best Books for Understanding the Dominican Republic

The brand-new website, Shepherd, asked me to share some recommendations of books related to my first book, Why the Cocks Fight: Dominicans, Haitians, and the Struggle for Hispaniola.

I was intrigued by the story of the book-loving founder, Ben Fox, who launched the site in April 2022 after deciding there HAD to be a better way to find books than relying on algorithms. So he started reaching out to authors for their recommendations.

Below are five novels that together give a good overview of the Dominican Republic, with a particular focus on the mid-twentieth century onward. I prioritized books that either were written in English or had excellent translation. I also chose books that can be easily found, because who wants to be intrigued by a book and then frustrated that they can’t buy or borrow it? Unfortunately, that knocked several worthy candidates off of the list.

So, without further ado, here is my annotated list of the 5 best novels for understanding the Dominican Republic:

Once you’ve read the list, take some time to explore Shepherd, which has many wonderful lists. Here are just a few:

Here are recommendations by 21 authors for their favorite books on Latin America.

Recommendations from Russell Crandall on the 5 best books on US involvement in Latin America.

Recommendations from Daniel Loedel on the 5 best books of Latin American magical realism.

When you find some that you like, order them from the links on Shepherd to support their good work.

And keep visiting! Ben and his team are adding more books and lists every day.

Podcasts with Michele

Interested in a deeper dive on Michele’s thoughts on a particular topic? Check out these recent podcast episodes organized by subject.

Updated August 5, 2022

Book Podcasts
You Are What You Risk on Next Big Idea Club Book Bites (download app to listen)
You Are What You Risk with The Chris Voss Show
YOU ARE WHAT YOU RISK Book launch “at” The Book Cellar in conversation with Amy Guth
Why We Ignore Risk on The Rewired Soul with Chris Boutté
Bonus Episode: Risk Management for Entrepreneurs and Writers on The Rewired Soul with Chris Boutté
Anne Janzer’s blog and podcast
You Are What You Risk on The Innovation Show with Aidan McCullen
The Gray Rhino on The Innovation Show with Aidan McCullen
You Are What You Risk with Dan Hill on New Books Network

Business Podcasts
NEW! The Gray Rhino in Reinvention on The Reinvention Show with Dr. Nadya Zhexembayeva and co-host Sherri Sutton
The Barry Moltz Show
The Price of Business with Kevin Price
Small Business Advocate with Jim Blasingame
Technori with Scott Kitun on WGN radio
SME Strategy with Anthony Taylor

Business Continuity and Disaster Preparedness Podcasts
Disaster Zone Episode 41: Personal and Organizational Risk Management with
Safety and Risk Preparedness with Christian Hunt

Behavior, Career and Personal Growth Podcasts
NEW! Climbing Gold: Captain Safety with Alex Honnold
NEW! Climbing Gold: Spotting the Gray Rhino (Exploring Risk Fingerprints in Alpinism) with Alex Honnold
NEW! Ask a Decision Engineer with Michelle Florendo
Be That Lawyer with Steve Fretzin
A Life in Full with Chris Stout
Dan Hill on New Books Network
Choose the Hard Way with Andrew Vontz
Human Risk with Christian Hunt: Michele Wucker on You Are What You Risk
FlexJobs Webinar: Risk and the Future of Work: How to Thrive Amid Uncertainty
Flip the Script with Alina Costache and April Rinne
What You Need To Know About Risk on People First! with Morag Barrett
Portfolio Careers Podcast with David Nebinski

Climate Podcasts
New Climate podcast
Two Experts Offer Personal Solution Paths Amid Complexity and Inevitability on Sustain What? with Andrew Revkin
Electric Ladies podcast with Joan Michelson

Current Events
The Economist Radio with Tom Standage
Emerging World with Afshin Molavi
The 2022 Doomsday Clock on Sustain What? with Andrew Revkin
The Big Questions We Face in Coming Months with Amy Guth on Crain’s Chicago Business

Finance, Insurance, and Markets Podcasts
NEW! The Purse Podcast with Jana Hlistova
Airmic Talks
Steady Trade Episode 200: Discover Your Risk Fingerprint With Michele Wucker
IBTalk with Paul Lucas: Why You Are What You Risk
Populyst with Sami Karam: You Are What You Risk, with Michele Wucker
Invest Resolve with Mike Philbrick
Black Swans, Gray Rhinos, and Tigers..Oh My with Michele Wucker Chicago Derivatives Podcast/RCM Alternatives
Wall Street Coach with Kim Ann Curtin

Leadership and Governance Podcasts
Advancing All Women/NextUp with Sarah Alter of Next Up, Sara Pew of UberEats, and Chelsey Alexander of PharmaPacks
DCRO Risk Governance podcast with David Koenig
How to Make Better Decisions on Partnering Leadership with Mahan Tavakoli
How Risk Empathy Impacts Team Performance on Empathy Edge with Maria Ross
How Can Individuals’ Risk Personalities Affect Global Risk Management and ESG Adoption? Boardroom and Beyond with Lyndsey Zhang
The Ethics Experts with Nick Gallo

Technology and Security Podcasts
OODAcast: Michele Wucker on Identifying and Confronting the Obvious Risks of Gray Rhinos with host Matt DeVost
Dark Rhino Security with Manoj Tandon
Hacker Valley Podcast with Chris Cochran and Ron Eddings
The Risk Episode: Black Swans, Grey Rhinos, Angels & Demons on 8th Layer Insights with Perry Carpenter
Information Security Forum ISF Podcast with Steve Durbin

Most recent update: August 5, 2022



You Are What You Risk Korean Edition Launches

YOU ARE WHAT YOU RISK is now available in South Korea via Miraebooks

Media coverage:

Maeil Business Newspaper author interview: ‘Grey Rhino’ asks again after 5 years “Your risk fingerprint… Did you understand?”

Maeil Business Newspaper review

Newsis.com review

Econonovil[Taesan Joo Book Review] “The second ‘gray rhino’ is running, get on it!”

Alex Honnold Chats with Michele on Climbing Gold

Professional adventure rock climber and free solo master Alex Honnold hosted Michele Wucker in two recent episodes of his popular Climbing Gold podcast. The episodes apply lessons from both The Gray Rhino and You Are What You Risk.

May 27: Captain Safety
Alex chats with Michele and Colin Haley, aka Captain Safety, who has shaped his risk fingerprint through two decades of elite alpinism, soloing and identifying risk factors.

June 10: Spotting the Gray Rhino
To manage risk, you first have to see the threat. Best-selling author Michele Wucker and Alex talk about how he evaluates risk, creating safety nets and his greatest fear. 
Listen below or wherever you like to listen to podcasts.

Exploring Cli-Fi Part II: Books by Theme

earth floating on a wave
Photo by Grafner on Dreamstime using NASA image

Exploring climate fiction is a journey into scientific, political, social, economic, epidemiological, zoological, philosophical, and practical new horizons. Last week’s post on how authors are grappling with the climate crisis really struck a chord!

Thanks to the readers who suggested some of their favorite titles and sent me links to additional resources. Here are two good ones: The website Cli-Fi.net is a treasure trove of links to news and popular culture references to cli-fi. The Econ-SF wiki of books at the nexus of economics and sci-fi has some intriguing cli-fi recommendations, several of which are included below.

Forthwith, loosely sorted by theme but otherwise in no particular order, is a list of cli-fi books. Many are fairly new, but I’ve also included a few earlier books that paved the way. No doubt this list is woefully incomplete.

I’ve read a few of the novels below. Others are by authors who have written other books I’ve enjoyed, and the rest are now on my to-read list. Some come from the lists I shared last week, some from recommendations from friends and colleagues both on and off of LinkedIn.

Authors Who Are Sub-Genres Unto Themselves

Kim Stanley Robinson’s many books of speculative climate fiction are practically a sub-genre unto themselves: 2312New York 2140, and the Science in the Capital series (Forty Signs of RainFifty Degrees BelowSixty Days and Counting) all look at the world after climate collapse. The Ministry for the Future (2020) imagines efforts to keep the collapse from happening. Other works by this extremely prolific writer, while not strictly about climate change, explore outposts on other planets, where humans presumably end up after ruining much or all of ours.

Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy explores what might happen in the aftermath of environmental collapse. The first installment, Oryx and Crake (2004) explores a world where humans have been decimated by a plague and genetic engineering gone wrong. The second, The Year of the Flood (2010) takes readers through the aftermath of the Waterless Flood, a pandemic. In the final book of the trilogy, MaddAddam (2014), the Children of Crake, the bio-engineered successors to humans, forge a new future.

Biodiversity Loss

Amanda Kool, Resembling Lepus (2022) After Earth’s Sixth Great Extinction, humans have supplemented natural fauna with high-quality replicas. Every living thing –both natural and human-created—is tracked, numbered, and categorized. A detective’s quest to solve a series of strangely staged murders of rabbits raises another question: What is the impact on humanity when mankind is required to play god to the creatures they have all but destroyed?

Michael Christie, Greenwood (2020) In this Canadian writer’s eco-parable, a new fungus is killing off the last trees of the last remaining forests in what is known as “the great withering” in 2038 -not so far in the future from now. (reviewed in The Guardian)

Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behaviour (2012) imagines the catastrophic effects when pollution and other environmental disruptions send an entire colony of butterflies off track. No doubt you’ve heard of the butterfly effect whereby a single butterfly flapping its wings can cause a hurricane on the other side of the planet. Now think about that magnified many, many times over. (Read all the way to the bottom of this review in The Guardian for one of the funniest corrections I’ve seen.) While not strictly cli-fi, many of her other works engage the environment so closely as for it to count as a character.

Sarah Blake, Clean Air (2022) Decades after a climate apocalypse in which trees suffocated humans with pollen, a serial killer stalks the residents of the domes in which humanity rebuilt a new society.

Charlotte McConaghy, Migrations (2021) (The Last Migration in the UK)The protagonist of this Australian writer’s acclaimed novel tracks the world’s last Arctic terns across the high seas – migrating birds for what may be their last time– in search of the last fish. The Economist describes it as “Moby Dick for the age of climate change.”

Richard Powers, The Overstory (2018) This Pulitzer Prize–winning novel follows five trees and nine people across generations as a complex environmental catastrophe unfolds. (From The Guardian)

Security, War, Pandemics, and Other Cataclysms

Neal Stephenson, Termination Shock (2021) A geo-engineering scheme goes badly awry. Several people have mentioned this one, completely unprompted, so it’s high on my to-read list.

Jeff VanderMeer, Hummingbird Salamander (2020) A fast-paced thriller following a missing eco-terrorist.

Bethany Clift, Last One at the Party (2021) The diary of the sole human survivor of a pandemic and her golden retriever sidekick. (You knew I had to get a dog in this list somehow, right?)

Omar El Akkad, American War (2017) Northern U.S states outlaw fossil fuels in 2074, provoking a second civil war.

Tobias S. Buckell, Stochasticity, (2008) Eco-terrorists roam a dystopian post-fossil-fuel Detroit.

Tochi Onyebuchi, War Girls (2019) In 2172, two Nigerian sisters separated by civil war attempt to reunite after global climate and nuclear apocalypse.

Migration

Niall Bourke, Line (2021) This Irish writer’s fictional world is centered on the Line, a tented community and a state of the perpetual waiting, depending on whether you take things literally or metaphorically, in a world where people barely subsist 

Amitav Ghosh, Gun Island (2019) The Guardian describes this novel, focused on mass migrations of humans, languages, and animals, as the author’s answer to his own 2016 accusation that fiction writers were complicit in climate denial.

Water: Scarcity and Flooding

Paolo Bacigalupi, The Water Knife (2015) In a world where water is worth more than gold and the Colorado River is drying up, this thriller “deftly explores corporate greed, social inequality, deregulation, and privatization.”

Stephen Baxter, Flood (2009) and Ark (2011) This two-part series begins in 2016 -an interesting twist that puts the protagonists in what is now the recent past, though both were written just a few years before then– and continues for the next 42 years as the oceans rise higher and higher.

J.G. Ballard, The Drowned World (1962): Set in 2045 in a world that climate change has rendered barely livable, this novel is an early, prescient, precursor to today’s cli-fi.  

Jessie Greengrass, The High House (2021) A family takes refuge in a house built high on a bluff, protected from floods and pandemic, amidst an increasingly uninhabitable world. “As I grew up, crisis slid from distant threat to imminent probability, and we tuned it out like static. We adjusted to each emergent normality and we did what we had always done,” one of the survivors laments.

Emmi Itäranta, Memory of Water (2014) In the future, when wars are waged over water, tea masters are entrusted with the knowledge of remaining stashes of the precious liquid.

John Lanchester, The Wall (2019) In this Pulitzer Prize winning novel, young “defenders” patrol Britain after it erected a fortress along its shores to protect the nation from rising seas. Read the review in The Guardian.

Ursula K. Le Guin, The New Atlantis (1975) This short novel is a prescient depiction of geological and social upheaval after climate change has raised seas and as populations grow out of control.

Rita Indiana, Tentacle (2018) A young maid in Santo Domingo must travel backwards in time to save the ocean and humanity. Translated into English by the talented Achy Obejas, Tentacle was originally published in Spanish under the title La mucama de Omicunlé. (If you know my first book, Why the Cocks Fight, you’ll understand why this one in particular appeals to me.)

Social Justice

Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Sower (1993) “This seminal cli-fi novel addresses climate change, social injustice, and corporate greed,” wrote the editors of Grist/The Fix.

N.K. Jemison, The Fifth Season (2015) A woman searches for her daughter in End Times. “The first book in the Broken Earth trilogy addresses racial and social oppression with obvious parallels to the injustices of this world.” 

Sam J Miller, Blackfish City (2018) Disease ravages a floating Arctic city of climate refugees beset by corruption and widening social inequality when a mysterious warrior, accompanied by her orca and polar bear, arrives.

Edward Abbey, The Monkey Wrench Gang (1975) Some commentators have credited this hallmark novel as having helped catalyze the rise of environmental activism.

The Shifting Nature of Humanity

Rebecca Roanhorse, Trail of Lightning (2018) As the gods and heroes of Indigenous legend roam a desolate world decimated by environmental disaster, a supernaturally gifted monster-killer and a medicine man must unravel a mystery that threatens the future. The Verge calls this novel “a fast-paced urban fantasy adventure with an exciting set of characters and an enticing world that begs for further exploration.”

Leandra Vane, Cast From the Earth (2017) In this post-apocalyptic novel, an epidemic turns men into monsters. The protagonist, a one-legged woman, and her companions fight for survival.

Lauren C. Teffeau, Implanted (2018) Climate catastrophe has forced humans into domed cities, where human connections are artificially heightened by neural implants. (from Grist’s Definitive Climate Fiction list)

This article is part of my LinkedIn newsletter series, “Around My Mind” – a regular walk through the ideas, events, people, and places that kick my synapses into action, sparking sometimes surprising or counter-intuitive connections. 

To subscribe to “Around My Mind” and get notifications of new posts, click the blue button at the top right corner of this page. Please don’t be shy about sharing, leaving comments or dropping me a private note with your own reactions.

For more content, including guest posts and ways to engage me for keynotes, workshops, or strategic deep dives, please visit www.thegrayrhino.com.

Exploring the Future via Cli-Fi

Earth on tightrope above flames
Image © Grafner via Dreamstime.com

Several colleagues have recently suggested novels that imagine the future if the world fails to arrest climate change. When a national security specialist recently asked for recommendations along the same lines, I asked around for more books, which I realized fit into the relatively new genre of “cli-fi.”

“Born as the unfortunate love child of global environmental crisis and narrative imagination, climate fiction is a timely cultural reaction to the growing societal awareness of human impact upon the planet and its climate system,” Juha Raipola wrote in Fafnir, the Nordic Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy Research.

Climate fiction tends to fall into two categories: one that is realistic, describing climate change affecting its protagonists in a world like the one we know, and the other more closely resembling science fiction. Raipola describes the latter as follows: “Speculative visions of flooding cities, melting glaciers, catastrophic storms, or drought-suffering environments demonstrate the potentially disastrous effects of climate change on the global environment, while the plot-level events of the narrative focus on the experience of living in a changed world.”

Cli-fi novels can play an important part in changing the conversation about climate crisis because of the way that fiction immerses readers in the reality that the author creates. It establishes an emotional connection in a way that no scientific analysis, modeling, or regurgitation of facts can do. That’s why the most dedicated policy wonks and business nerds can benefit from reading fiction related to their work.

Without an emotional connection to a challenge, it is hard to create urgency. And without a sense of urgency, it’s hard to change the way we do things.

I’ve started reading a few of the suggestions I dug up. This week, I’ll share some of the places I found promising lists and anthologies.

Grist, a nonprofit media outlet dedicated to telling stories of climate solutions, has published a glossary of cli-fi sub-genres, which you can peruse HERE. You’ll find descriptions and book recommendations exploring diverse versions of futurism; solar, eco, cyber, and hope punk; ecotopia, dystopia, and “ustopia” (a mix of the two). The list is part of the Climate Fiction Issue published by Fix, Grist’s networking and events arm.

The Guardian’s Claire Armistead compiled a list focused on “the new wave of climate fiction” and reached out to Margaret Atwood, Amitav Ghosh, and other novelists for insightful comments about their own work and the genre writ large. “Cli-fi often rests on the familiar trope of a nightmarish new reality unleashed by a catastrophic event,” Armistead wrote. But authors have also woven in various narrative tools and tropes including myth and mysticism, social comedy, thriller plots, stream-of-consciousness, and experimental formats.

Heather Hansman recently compiled a list for The Atlantic of books in which climate change plays a role. “The books below aren’t about climate change—they’re about immigration, corporate malfeasance, and tourism; they focus on families, neighbors, and friends,” she wrote. “But in each, the anxieties of our warming age force their way in, simmering quietly in the background or erupting across the page.”

Andrew Dana Hudson, himself a prolific author of climate fiction, in a Medium essay similarly poses the question of how to define the genre. “Many stories set in the future are classified as science fiction, or sci-fi. Doesn’t that make climate fiction, or cli-fi, just a form of sci-fi?” He makes the point that “In most science fiction, social change is driven by advancements in science and technology. It’s fiction about science.” In imagining science-driven transformations, sci-fi examines the impact on society. And here, Hudson argues, is how climate fiction differs from the broader sci-fi genre: It lets us pick up a different theory: that the biggest driver of social change in the coming century or more will be climate change.

The anthologies below give a taste of cli-fi in a wide-ranging set of short stories.

Anthologies

Everything Change: An Anthology of Climate Fiction, Vol. 1 (2016), Vol. 2 (2018), and Vol. 3 (2021). Published by Arizona State University Imagination and Climate Future Initiative, this series of anthologies was named after a quote from a talk that Margaret Atwood gave at Arizona State University in 2014.

Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Summers (2018) and Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Winters (2020). This pair of anthologies combines utopian and dystopian visions of a future characterized by extreme heat and extreme cold.

Imagine 2200: Climate Fiction for Future Ancestors. The winners and finalists of the first climate fiction contest organized by Fix and the National Resources Defense Council.

McSweeney’s Issue 58: 2040 A.D.(2019) A collaboration between McSweeney’s and the National Resources Defense Council, this anthology brings together literary luminaries including Tommy Orange, Elif Shafak, Luis Alberto Urrea, Asja Bakic, and Rachel Heng, all of whom set their stories in 2040.

Multispecies Cities: Solarpunk Urban Futures (2021) A global roster of authors explores the impact of climate change on cities.

The Weight of Light: A Collection of Solar Futures (2019) This optimistic anthology of short fiction imagines what a solar-powered world might look like.

Warmer. (2018) A collection of seven short Kindle books, also available as audio books, which amazon.com plugs as “Fear and hope collide in this collection of possible tomorrows.”

Next week, I’ll share a list of novels sorted by focus, ranging from drought and flood to violent conflict to biodiversity loss and social justice, with a few authors qualifying as genres unto themselves.

Do you have any favorite cli-fi authors or books? Please share them in the comments.

[Links to bookshop.org are affiliate links]

This article is part of my LinkedIn newsletter series, “Around My Mind” – a regular walk through the ideas, events, people, and places that kick my synapses into action, sparking sometimes surprising or counter-intuitive connections. 

To subscribe to “Around My Mind” and get notifications of new posts, click the blue button at the top right corner of this page. Please don’t be shy about sharing, leaving comments or dropping me a private note with your own reactions.

For more content, including guest posts and ways to engage me for keynotes, workshops, or strategic deep dives, please visit www.thegrayrhino.com.

YOU ARE WHAT YOU RISK Romanian Edition Launches

You Are What You Risk is now available in Romanian as Esti Tot Ce Risti, published by Editura Creator.

Esti tot ce risti. Arta stiintei de a naviga printr-o lume incerta.

Esti tot ce risti este un apel clar pentru o conversatie cu totul noua despre relatia noastra cu riscul si incertitudinea. In aceasta carte revolutionara, Michele Wucker analizeaza de ce este atat de important sa intelegeti amprenta de risc si cum sa va faceti relatia de risc sa functioneze mai bine in afaceri, viata si in lume. Bazandu-se pe povesti de risc convingatoare din intreaga lume si tesand in cercetarea economica, antropologie, sociologie si psihologie, Wucker face o punte intre conversatiile profesionale si cele cu risc laic. Ea contesta stereotipurile cu privire la atitudinile de risc, reincadreaza modul in care sunt legate de gen si de risc si arunca o noua lumina asupra diferentelor dintre generatii. Ea arata cum noua stiinta a “personalitatii de risc” remodeleaza afacerile si finantele, cum ecosistemele de risc sanatoase sprijina economiile si societatile si de ce o atitudine dispusa la risc poate rezolva conflictele.

Wucker impartaseste informatii, instrumente practice si strategii dovedite care va vor ajuta sa intelegeti ce va face cine sunteti si sa faceti alegeri mai bune. Esti tot ce risti introduce un nou vocabular pentru a vorbi despre aceste amenintari. Toata lumea are o “amprenta de risc” personalizata care descrie ce fel de risc isi asuma, modelata de personalitatea, educatia si experientele lor. Intarirea “muschiului de risc” te poate ajuta sa iei decizii bune. Wucker se concentreaza pe examinarea situatiilor dificile personale si se apropie de crizele globale, analizand modul in care oamenii se lupta cu alegerile si incertitudinea. – Grist, revista online americana non-profit 

Dupa cum ilustreaza Silicon Valley, atitudinile si comportamentele de risc se afla in centrul motivului pentru care organizatiile si economiile prospera sau se indreapta spre dezastru. In Esti tot ce risti, Michele Wucker exploreaza dinamica din spatele relatiilor indivizilor si companiilor cu riscul, de la experienta personala la valorile culturale si pana la ecosistemele politice. Cunostintele sale originale si recomandarile practice ii vor ajuta pe cititori sa aleaga asumarea sanatoasa a riscurilor in locul greselilor periculoase din afaceri, viata si lume. – Deborah Perry Piscione autor al Secrets of Silicon Valley: What Everyone Else Can Learn from the Innovation Capital of the World 

Fie ca esti investitor, antreprenor, ca incerci pur si simplu sa-ti croiesti cariera strategic in orice domeniu, vei beneficia de abordarea inovatoare si clara a lui Michele Wucker de a-ti asuma riscuri intelepte si de a naviga in incertitudine. Aceasta carte va va ajuta sa treceti de la obisnuit  la extraordinar. – Laura Huang, profesor de administrarea afacerilor la  Harvard Business School si autor al Ascendent. Cum sa transformi dificultatile in avantaje 

Michele Wucker a inventat termenul de “rinocer gri” care simbolizeaza o noua perspectiva asupra evenimentelor probabile, evidente, de impact si care ne ofera posibilitatea de a alege sa actionam. Ea este autoarea a patru carti influente, inclusiv The Gray Rhino: How to Recognize and Act on the Obvious Dangers We Ignore, care a mutat pietele financiare, a modelat politica guvernamentala si strategiile de afaceri din intreaga lume. Totodata, a inspirat o discutie populara TED care extinde teoria “rinocerului gri” la probleme personale. Fost director media si CEO Think Tank (Grup de experti), este fondatoarea firmei de consultanta strategica Gray Rhino & Company din Chicago. A fost recunoscuta de World Economic Forum ca Young Global Leader si ca bursiera Guggenheim.

Michele’s Favorite Thought-Provoking Global TV Binges

During the Covid-19 pandemic, I haven’t been able to go around the world the way I did in Before Times but traveled virtually via way more time watching television than ever before.

When a friend recently asked me for recommendations of the TV binges that have gotten me through the pandemic, I realized that my favorites had common threads running through them. As you might have expected, I particularly enjoy shows that let me travel the world vicariously and have something to say about society, present and past.

So, since I’m in the mood for something a bit lighter this week, I wanted to share the list with you. Here it is:

Dramas

Photo credit: Netflix

Money Heist (“La casa de papel”) Set against the backdrop of the massive money printing unleashed during the Great Financial Crisis, this series is the story of not one but (eventually) two robberies: of the Spanish Central Bank and of the Spanish Mint. Every time you think the series could not possibly do more with the story of a rag-tag band of thieves led by a nerdy master criminal (who is hot despite, or maybe because of his nerdiness), it proves you wrong. (2017-2022)

The Bureau (“Le bureau des legendes”) is a French spy thriller exploring the complex relationship between the US CIA and European intelligence agencies in the Middle East, North Africa, and Russia. Powerful story lines, great writing, moral dilemmas, and fully drawn characters. (2015-2020)

Lupin Assane Diop, a French-Senegalese gentleman master thief out to avenge his father, who as a boy saw his father’s wealthy employer frame him for a diamond “heist.” Diop is inspired in his exploits by a series –17 novels and 39 novellas–written by French novelist Maurice Leblanc about the gentleman burglar and master of disguise, Arsène Lupin. (2021)

Homeland Brilliant and bipolar, CIA officer Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) risks everything, including heartbreak and sanity, at every twist and turn of this long-running thriller. Against a global backdrop that takes viewers from Washington, DC, to Iran, Syria, Germany, Afghanistan, Russia, and Israel, Homeland has its own take on the global War on Terror and its unintended consequences. Oh, and it showcases award-winning performances by Claire Danes, Damien Lewis, and Mandy Patinkin. Need I say more? (2011-2020)

The Americans This drama about two Russian spies posing as Americans in suburban Washington, DC, in the 1980s, was inspired by the spy ring that the FBI busted in 2010. A few months before that bust, I briefly met one of those spies, an eager young man who handed me his card after a panel in New York City where I was speaking about risk. He later became a travel agent, inspiring the profession of the husband in this series, played by the talented Matthew Rhys. Keri Russell was also fantastic, as was Costa Ronin, who later played a Russian spy in Homeland. (2013-2018)

El Presidente (Do you really need this translated?) This Emmy-nominated eight-episode Chilean drama takes viewers inside the 2015 FIFA soccer scandal from the perspective of a hapless small-town soccer association club who is tapped to head Chile’s national soccer association. The FBI later leans on Sergio Jadue, who becomes the linchpin of their case against FIFA. It’s a poignant, sometimes comical, look at how corruption insidiously drags people in and how hard it is to give it up. (2020)

Quirky Comedies

Call My Agent (“Dix pour cent”) is a French comedy drama about a talent agency, with cameos by real-life movie stars playing versions of themselves. (2015-2019)

Kim’s Convenience Based on a play of the same name by co-producer Ins Choi, Kim’s Convenience is the story of a Korean family in Toronto running a small convenience store. The dynamic between the Korean-born parents, Umma and Apa, and their Canadian-raised children, is achingly bittersweet. See the performances that got Simu Liu noticed and cast as the Marvel hero, Shang-Chi. (2016-2021)

The One I Missed

I may be the last person on the planet who has not seen Squid Game, the global phenomenon released in 2021. I was eager to watch because I’ve enjoyed so much other TV, film, and music from Korea’s amazing culture industry, and because of its implied commentary on global inequality and economic desperation. Alas, I only got a few minutes in to the first episode then became too squeamish. But as I understand it, that’s entirely my loss.

I’m always looking for new suggestions, particularly smartly written series from around the world with well-developed characters and insights into salient issues. Please share your favorites in the comments.

This article is part of my LinkedIn newsletter series, “Around My Mind” – a regular walk through the ideas, events, people, and places that kick my synapses into action, sparking sometimes surprising or counter-intuitive connections. 

To subscribe to “Around My Mind” and get notifications of new posts, click the blue button at the top of this page. Please don’t be shy about sharing, leaving comments or dropping me a private note with your own reactions.

For more content, including guest posts and ways to engage me for keynotes, workshops, or strategic deep dives, please visit www.thegrayrhino.com.