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Historical Book Recomendation Thread

Discussion in 'World History' started by Babbler, Nov 28, 2008.

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  1. SupremeClientele

    SupremeClientele Chieftain

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    Not about to check 60 pages, but World Order by Henry Kissinger will explain how the entire world works as far as geopolitics. Extremely important read
     
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  2. Olleus

    Olleus Deity

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    Isn't that a little outdated by now?
     
  3. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    Any book purporting to explain "how X works" is inherently suspect.

    There's a reason academic texts have names like "An inquiry into a study of a survey of..."
     
  4. Hrothbern

    Hrothbern Deity

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    I think not really

    geopolitics is very much a long term based positioning
    typical much longer than the usual 4-8 year periods of governments

    the only real complicating factor in that positioning is the erosion of the classic nation states since already the Arab Spring,
    but as this does not involve the big powers themselves.....
     
  5. SupremeClientele

    SupremeClientele Chieftain

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    Not at all, it's a macro look at the world structure and how diplomacy is conducted with a strong lean on historic and cultural reasoning. Learned a lot from the book and since the world structure is based on treaties and gentlemen's agreements, it'll be a while before it's outdated. I had a general feeling about some general things in the book but it was speculation until someone 'in the field' gave the details. Most of the other topics were completely new to me.

    It explains how the major powers divide sphere's of influence all over the world. For example, whatever decision France makes about it's former colonies, the rest of the major powers have to agree. The trade off is France will then acknowledged your sphere. The US is the western hemisphere and middle east (which explained the involvement to me), plus the reserve currency and military spread. The US enforces the world order as it's the primary benefactor, while countries that the US has tension with are ones that more or less want to 'reshuffle' the cards, or want to change their position within it. It also explain how civilizations 'think' and how it effects their policy. Goes in depth about civilization zones and how they're still relevant today (China, Islamic, Western etc.) How the west's primary interest is maintain peace among western nations and so forth.

    After reading it, a lot of the world's affairs made more sense and become more predictable.
     
  6. SupremeClientele

    SupremeClientele Chieftain

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    Think hundreds of years. Every major European war for example has been a matter of violating the 'objective' of western geopolitics which is maintaining balance among western countries. So when one entity becomes stronger than everyone else, a coalition gang's up against it. The unification of Germany for example escalated the scale or potential for war because by default (population) Germany will always be the strongest country in Western Europe. So the rest of Europe has hundreds of years of trying to curtail or limit Germany's growth and capabilities. Another is Russia, which is by default always going to be the stronger country in Europe, so the rest of Europe takes particular care to make sure it's capabilities are blocked off (isolation, warm war ports etc).

    If you keep that in mind and look at something like Brexit. It's a natural following of course by Britian that was becoming weary of how strong the EU was making Germany (plus the immigrant thing). The issue with Ukraine and the Crimea a few years ago was the US/EU trying to take Ukraine from the Russian sphere of influence under the guise that the soviet sphere isn't the Russian sphere, as well as trying to limit Russia capacity to actualize it's potential because that will inevitably break the 'order'.


    Meanwhile in Asia, China's primary interest is having it's supremacy recognized but not enforcing it worldwide. So it's objective is to make the world dependent on China so that nobody can argue with it in it's own sphere. At the same time it takes particular precaution not to violate the spheres of other powers. This is how China has behaved for thousands of years, and when it didn't it was usually under foreign rule (Mongol, Manchu)
     
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  7. JohannaK

    JohannaK Careless Whisperer

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    So basically the world works like a tabletop strategy game where the stakes are sometimes real.
     
  8. Hrothbern

    Hrothbern Deity

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    In terms of ganging up, the board game RISK is a very nice way to get a feel for that.
    The dynamics of the game BTW changing whether you play it with 3,4 or 5 players.
    but ganging up against the strongest with an open eye to take out the weakest, if that decreases your total border lenght, is the same.
    And all that does not need talking/negotiationg aloud on your strategy.
    Everything is all the time selfevident, like geopolitics
    The random factor of the dices comparable to the random factor in real life politics when freaks like Trump stretch the basic positions some more than normal balance.... for a while.
     
  9. Imaus

    Imaus Prince

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    I just finished China's Imperial Past: An Introduction to Chinese History and Culture by Charles O Hucker. While being pre-Pinyin, it still recognized the Shang dynasty and Chou, and divides China's history into three broad parts: Prehistoric to Chin, Chin/Han to Tang, and then Tang to Qing; with chapters on governance, art, culture, religion and thought for each of those periods. It doesn't focus on many 'big men' besides the founders of dynasties and even then is post-modern by explaining the situation that kindled their rise and situation to deal with than emphasizing them as agents who could change the whole of history.

    Might not be much more than a primer these days but it was overall enjoyable.

    It was published but three years ago, and Kissinger is still around and being used for advice so I think he mixed his experiences, the grand picture, and recent developments. I've marked it down for reading at least on a cursory note.
     
  10. Olleus

    Olleus Deity

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    Ok, I guess it might not be outdated then. My real concern was on along those lines

    The erosion of nation states as the dominant (or even sole) actor on the global stage was, I believed, a big change in the last 30 years. The EU is the prime example, but even stuff like the ICJ, WTO and NAFTA seem to be becoming more important than before. Even if most of those are mostly talking shops, a nation state has less effective sovereignty that 20 years ago unless it cuts itself off from the rest of the world completely. But maybe that's not so relevant in geo-politics, or is old enough to be well understood by Kissinger.
     
  11. Mouthwash

    Mouthwash Escaped Lunatic

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    The book asserts no such thing; that was all SupremeClientele. World Order (I've read large portions of it but not the whole thing) seems to be a general report of the current international system, and briefly overviews different regions/cultures. A very light read and a good one.

    But you're right, not all scholars are as respectable:

     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2018
  12. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    I like Chomsky, but I'm going to have to suck it up and admit that is a deeply embarrassing title for your book.
     
  13. Mouthwash

    Mouthwash Escaped Lunatic

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    Looking for Marxist criticism of theories of human rights (that don't assume the reader is already well-versed in Marxism). Shorter pieces and articles are as welcome as books.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2018
  14. Owen Glyndwr

    Owen Glyndwr La Femme Moderne

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    Not a Marxist work, but if you're interested in Human Rights, a book worth taking a look at is Lynn Hunt's Inventing Human Rights (2007)
     
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  15. Mouthwash

    Mouthwash Escaped Lunatic

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    I'm more interested in critiques of them, really.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2018
  16. morgenstern1

    morgenstern1 Chieftain

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    For anyone interested in World War I, including the some of the political intrigues of Europe leading into that conflict, as well as chapters covering numerous asides to ponder other information, people, or events that were peripheral to the war (e.g. the Armenian genocide), I really enjoyed G.J. Meyer's A World Undone: The Story of the Great War.

    In a way, it's almost like reading Greek tragedy - the scope of the absolutely shameless waste of human life that occurred in this conflict is mind-boggling. I also enjoyed reading about all of the personalities involved, some of whom I felt I could almost root for, others whom I despised (both in the Allied and in the Central Powers).

    Anyway, it really blew me away - I had a very difficult time putting the book down. I highly recommend it.

    It has a 'sequel' of sorts: The World Remade: America in World War I, which goes into considerable detail regarding Woodrow Wilson's presidency and his famous 'fourteen points', the aftermath of the war, the establishment of the League of Nations, etc. -- which is probably a good lead-in to a World War II book (if anyone has any suggestions for a good one (broad view) on that, I would be interested). Thanks!
     
  17. Ajidica

    Ajidica High Quality Person

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    The Deluge: The Great War, America, and the Remaking of the Global Order by Adam Tooze is pretty good. It starts in the middle of WW1 and covers all the financial/economic and political dealings going on between the Great Powers. The book is a bit of a doorstop but quite good and well written.
     
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  18. morgenstern1

    morgenstern1 Chieftain

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    Thanks Ajidica, I will check it out!

    P.S. When I asked my father-in-law for a suggestion, he recommended Samuel Eliot Morison's
    History of United States Naval Operations in World War II
    (15 volumes?!? just about the Navy in WWII?!?! :crazyeye:)
     
  19. Dachs

    Dachs Hero of the Soviet Union

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    Morison lived it, as the US Navy's official historian during the war. He had flag rank and was present at several of the engagements described in his book. His descriptions were exhaustive and his sourcing impeccable. It's remarkable how much he got right.

    There's also an abridged single-volume version, as I recall, if fifteen volumes is a bit overwhelming. Given the wealth of available material and the unusual length and scope of the naval war between 1941 and 1945, fifteen volumes is quite a reasonable length.
     
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  20. Owen Glyndwr

    Owen Glyndwr La Femme Moderne

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    What are your thoughts on the Meyer book? I failed to find any academic reviews of the work, and his publication history gave me pause given the promises made in the synopsis.
     

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