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A collection of articles delivers an overview of the major intellectual trends in contemporary peace studies.

In this volume, the Norwegian Nobel Institute provides both scholars and the public with an exhaustive survey of contemporary peace studies that features the work of over a dozen leading academics and intellectuals from around the globe. Embracing the ambitions of Alfred Nobel to find ways in which “the peace of the centuries would be assured,” this book presents 15 chapters that offer “the most fruitful points of entry into the causes of peace.” Though mostly crafted by academics, the contributions are deliberately written in an accessible way that attempts to narrow the divide between theoreticians in ivory towers and real-world diplomatic practitioners. Moreover, by deliberately selecting a group of authors from myriad disciplines, the work seeks to break down barriers among academics of different methodological backgrounds. While all of the articles, in diverse ways, endeavor to explain the causes of peace, many present conflicting interpretations. This is by design and reflects a primary objective of the book, edited by Toje (Will China’s Rise Be Peaceful?, 2018, etc.) and Steen (co-author: Nuclear Disarmament, 2019), to highlight the nuances and complexities of contemporary peace studies. For example, Richard Lebow (King’s Coll. London) and Simon Reich (Rutgers Univ.) argue that American hegemony “is a fiction” used by the United States to justify military intervention. Alternately, Jeffrey Taliaferro (Tufts Univ.) suggests that American hegemony is a force of global stability. While differences in interpretation are embraced here, the inclusion of a chapter on Henry Kissinger by conservative provocateur Niall Ferguson (Hoover Institution at Stanford Univ.; Harvard Univ.; and Tsinghua Univ., Beijing) is curious. In a departure from the rigidly intellectual foundation of the other chapters, Ferguson simplistically reduces anti-war advocates to pacifist straw men ignorant of the realpolitik of international diplomacy and outlandishly claims that since the 1970s, “the study of diplomatic history all but ceased at major institutions of higher education.” This would come as a shock to the University of Pennsylvania and other colleges around the globe that continue to offer courses in diplomatic history. Despite the outlier of Ferguson’s chapter, this volume is a significant contribution to the peace studies category.

An accessible and impressive collection of contemporary theories and approaches to peace studies.

Pub Date: Oct. 22nd, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-5445-0505-3
Page count: 438pp
Publisher: Nobel Symposium Proceedings
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2020