Margaret MacMillan, The War That Ended Peace: How Europe Abandoned Peace for the First World War, Random House (2014)
My reading list is a year behind in marking the centennial the First World War’s onset, which occasioned an outpouring of new and reissued histories. (Now many of those books are available in paperback, so a year behind isn’t so bad.) I had read MacMillan’s impressive Paris 1919. My appreciation for that book led me to grab The War That Ended Peace of a bookshelf lined with World War I-themed competitors.
Paris 1919 tells the story of the peace conference that had such a dramatic impact on questions of nationalism, territory, reparations, and international organization that continue to haunt us today. The lessons of 1919 felt current without having to be explicitly stated, in that they contextualized later and contemporary developments. It brought its major figures to life, with vivid portraits of Woodrow Wilson, Lloyd George, George Clemenceau, and others. The book admirably showed how factors from different “levels of analysis” affected decision-makers, and how those mixed with personal conflicts, boredom, and exhaustion. (more…)
I just attended the International Policy Summer Institute, a program put together by Bridging the Gap. The event was held at my alma mater, the American University School of International Service, and led by Dean James Goldgeier, Bruce Jentleson from Duke, Jordan Tama from AU, and Brent Durbin of Smith College. Heavily influenced by the work and mission of Alexander George, BtG seeks to help interested scholars connect their work with policymakers, the media, and the general public. My fellow participants were an impressive group, including many up-and-coming assistant professors with a book (or several) with top university presses. All shared interests in producing excellent scholarship that contributes to the scholarship and builds theory while also engaging with other audiences (though not always the same ones). In the spirit of the event, I want to draw a few lessons from my week.