Reviewing a historical dictionary is often a rather thankless task. Typically compiled from brief essays contributed by a variety of scholars they often lack a coherent perspective, leaving the reviewer to offer vague generalisations regarding the overall quality of the entries or selection of topics.
Just over a quarter of a century ago, it seemed, you couldn’t buy interest in the international history of the American Civil War. American scholars appeared especially uninterested in a subject that, as Don Doyle’s splendid new book reveals, is ripe with possibility.
In 1984, Ernest May published Knowing One’s Enemies which examined intelligence assessments of enemies made by various nations before both the First and Second World Wars.
Susan Pedersen’s title misleads. The unwary might think that it deals generally with the League and imperialism, centring on the well-known paradox that an institution created primarily to ensure stability in Europe was undermined and then effectively destroyed by its failure to stop imperialist aggression in Asia and Africa.
Despite the back cover declaring Lloyd Gardner’s The War on Leakers ‘the essential backstory to understand the Snowden case, NSA eavesdropping, and the future of privacy’, and its subtitle promising a study ‘from Eugene V. Debs to Edward Snowden,’ it would be inaccurate to describe this book as a historical work.
The Cold War, understandably, was for a long time viewed through a prism of the confrontation between the Soviet Union, it allies and the United States-led West. Conflicts, even in what used to be termed the Third World, were often described as proxy wars.
Media, with alarming regularity, reports nuclear threats from North Korea and President Trump’s rhetorical belligerency; Russian and Chinese irredentism conflicts in the Middle East and Afghanistan, across the Sahel region of Africa and Yemen; not to forget the asymmentry of terrorism. Is there any consolation to be had in philosophy for the cultural phenomenon of war?
One might be forgiven for thinking that British defence policy between the Napoleonic era and the outbreak of the First World War was always geared towards a large, continental commitment.
In this impressive and well-researched book, L. H. Roper offers an innovative examination of the 17th-century English global empire to establish exactly who directed English colonial expansion during its nascent years.
Oona Hathaway and Scott Shapiro’s The Internationalists And Their Plan to Outlaw War is an ambitious book which has attracted wide attention.