Miriam Fendius Elman, assistant professor of political science at Arizona State University and editor of Paths to Peace: Is Democracy the Answer? (MIT, 1997).
"Since the end of the Cold War, nothing has generated more controversy in the field of international relations than the assertion that democracies have rarely gone to war with each other," Elman observes. "As the United States searches for a new foreign policy blueprint, expanding the zone of democracy abroad seems to fit the bill. Two of the best introductions to the burgeoning 'democratic peace' literature are Bruce Russett's Grasping the Democratic Peace: Principles for a PostCold War World (Princeton, 1993) and James Lee Ray's Democracy and International Conflict: An Evaluation of the Democratic Peace Proposition (South Carolina, 1995). Russett and Ray each offer a host of reasons why democracies tend not to fight each other, from internal checks and balances that prevent leaders from waging war to liberal values that foster peaceful methods of conflict resolution. And in doing so, these books largely discredit the traditional 'realist' approach to the study of world politics‹a perspective that minimized the impact of domestic politics and political ideology on war and peace decision making."
Walter Laqueur, co-chairman of the International Research Council of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., co-editor of the journal Contemporary History, and author of Fascism: Past, Present, and Future (Oxford, 1996).
The Cold War has been overanalyzed from a Soviet-U.S. perspective. "Religious fundamentalism has played a notable role in international relations in recent years. One of the most enlightening contributions on the subject is Spokesmen for the Despised: Fundamentalist Leaders in the Middle East (Chicago, 1997), edited by R. Scott Appleby. The essays on diverse religious figures are uniformly excellent, the subject is of tremendous topical importance, not least because there is a great deal of ignorance about it to overcome. Even in Arabic and Persian not much has been published, though the sermons of the most popular preachers can be bought on cassette or CD on street corners."
Cynthia Enloe, professor of government at Clark University and author of Bananas, Beaches, and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Politics (California, 1990) and The Morning After: Sexual Politics at the End of the Cold War (California, 1993).
"The last seven years have seen a flourishing of feminist studies challenging the alleged gender neutrality of the 'national interest.' Earlier work examined Filipino and Mexican maids as serious international political actors, for example, and the role of rape in wartime. Now we have the first detailed feminist scholarly case study of a military alliance. Katherine Moon's new book, Sex Among Allies: Military Prostitution in U.S.Korean Relations (Columbia, 1997), reveals just how central our history of providing Korean women as prostitutes to male American soldiers has been in negotiations between Washington and Seoul. Drawing on declassified diplomatic minutes and her own interviews with Korean women working around U.S. bases, Moon has given us an eye-opening account of a little-known subject."
Walter LaFeber, professor of history at Cornell University and author of The Clash: U.S.Japanese Relations Through History (Norton, 1997).
"The Cold War has been overanalyzed from a SovietU.S. perspective," says LaFeber. "But Thomas J. McCormick's America's Half-Century: United States Foreign Policy in the Cold War and After (Johns Hopkins, 1995) broadens the focus so we can understand how that relationship and the United States and Soviet Union's internal development were shaped by other nations in an increasingly interdependent world. McCormick is the first to apply world-systems theory comprehensively to the Cold War. That conflict, he demonstrates, turned on complex 'center-periphery' relationships, with certain 'peripheries'‹most notably Vietnam and oil-producing nations‹causing fundamental problems for the United States and for the American triumphalist view that underlies so many other books on the Cold War."
Michael Doyle, director of the Center of International Studies at Princeton, author of Ways of War and Peace: Realism, Liberalism, and Socialism (Norton, 1997), and co-editor of Keeping the Peace: Multidimensional U.N. Operations in Cambodia and El Salvador (Cambridge, 1997).
"Keeping the peace in countries riven with factional conflict, protecting basic human values against predatory leaders and murderous animosities‹these are among today's greatest moral and strategic challenges. Nowhere are they better illustrated than in two books on the July 1995 massacre at Srebrenica in Bosnia. David Rohde's End Game (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1997) recounts, hour by hour and in painstaking detail, the killings in those Bosnian hills as Serbs hunted their Muslim former neighbors. Jan Honig and Norbert Both, in Srebrenica: Record of a War Crime (Penguin, 1996), take a more panoramic view. Their book focuses less on who did what than on how the United States, NATO, the United Nations, and well-meaning, responsible states--the Netherlands, most importantly--agreed to accept the dangerous mandate to safeguard the area and why they failed to fulfill it. Ensuring real peace in Bosnia today requires that we learn how to prevent another such massacre. The first step is learning from Srebrenica, and these two books are an excellent place to start."
John Mearsheimer, professor of political science at the University of Chicago and author of Conventional Deterrence (Cornell, 1983) and Liddell Hart and the Weight of History (Cornell, 1988).
"It is frequently asserted that conquest does not pay in the modern world because modern industrial economies are especially difficult to exploit for gain. But in Does Conquest Pay? The Exploitation of Occupied Industrial Societies (Princeton, 1996), Peter Liberman carefully assesses the historical record to show that this assertion is not true. Indeed, he makes a persuasive case that modernization has made great powers easier, not harder, to plunder. If conquest pays, great-power war might be a more attractive option than is commonly believed. Robert A. Pape's Bombing to Win: Airpower and Coercion in War (Cornell, 1996) also cuts against the grain, this time challenging the conventional wisdom of airpower advocates, who argue that massive air strikes on an enemy's civilian population will quickly induce surrender. Pape systematically examines the history of strategic bombing and shows that it has little military utility, mainly because modern societies can absorb tremendous amounts of punishment without flinching."
Michael Lind, contributing editor of Harper's Magazine, author of The Alamo: An Epic (Houghton Mifflin, 1997) and The Next American Nation: The New Nationalism and the Fourth American Revolution (The Free Press, 1995).
"The end of the Cold War marked the end of a certain kind of Cold War history which was necessarily based on speculation about the deeds and motives of the other side. In We Now Know: Rethinking Cold War History (Oxford, 1997), John Lewis Gaddis, America's leading diplomatic historian, has provided the first major synthesis of the new Cold War history, which draws on communist-bloc archives in addition to American sources. The new evidence bolsters Gaddis's provocative conclusion that the 'old' Cold War history was 'an abnormal way of writing history' because it ignored the moral and intellectual dimensions of the struggle between the liberal democracies and the Soviet bloc: '[T]he events of 198991 make sense only in terms of ideas.'"
Robert Jervis, professor of international politics at Columbia University and author of System Effects: Complexity in Political and Social Life (Princeton, 1997).
"The propensity among scholars of international politics to think all good ideas have been discovered only recently is corrected by Michael Doyle's Ways of War and Peace: Realism, Liberalism, and Socialism (Norton, 1997), which brings classical theorists like Thucydides, Kant, and Marx to bear on both current research and the prospects for the future of world politics. But some of the best thinking in the field is strikingly new. In Anatomy of Mistrust: U.S.Soviet Relations During the Cold War (Cornell, 1997), Deborah Larson gives the problem of trust a fresh treatment, combining psychology with original historical research to demonstrate that, contrary to many popular assumptions, there were missed opportunities for mitigating, if not ending, the Cold War."
Are there any great books you think we missed? Let us know.