“Islam today has a higher political profile than any of its competitors,” writes Michael Cook, a professor of Near Eastern studies, in Ancient Religions, Modern Politics: The Islamic Case in Comparative Perspective (Princeton University Press). He explores why that is the case, and compares the roles of Islam, Hinduism, and Christianity in modern politics.

Acts of Union and Disunion: What Has Held the U.K. Together — and What Is Dividing It? (Profile Books), by history professor Linda Colley, examines forces that have united and divided England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, and some of the “wider, international unions and would-be unions” in which they have been involved. The book is based on a BBC radio series.

“I’m the kind of guy who’s always wanted to be elsewhere,” Edmund White, a creative writing professor, writes in his memoir Inside a Pearl: My Years in Paris (Bloomsbury). In the summer of 1983, White moved to Paris and stayed for 15 years. He recounts the people he met, his friendships and romances, and his work as a writer.