Here’s a reading list for Cathy Ashton, as she swots up for her first outing as EU High Representative next week

Poor Cathy Ashton has been given only seven days to master the key history books that explain modern Europe, before being flung into the maelstrom that will be the brand new job of High Representative of the European Union, it has been reported. It’s the ultimate “essay crisis”.

Last-minute panic revision still induces nightmares in graduates for several years after their finals — I still get them now, a quarter of a century later — so here’s a reading list for Baroness Ashton of Upholland on the basis that she can spend the whole week reading books at the rate of one a day. All were published in 2009 and each is written with scholarship, erudition and wit.

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The rise of the East will change more than just economics. It will shake up the whole way that we think and live our lives

The world is being remade but the West is only very slowly waking up to this new reality. In 2027 Goldman Sachs estimates that the size of the Chinese economy will overtake America’s and by 2050 will be twice as big.

But we still think of the rise of the developing countries and the relative decline of the developed nations in almost exclusively economic terms. China’s rise is seen as having momentous economic implications but being of little political and cultural consequence. This is a profound mistake.

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