A Financial Times Best Politics Book of 2012
“A splendid account…highly compelling.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Impressive…a significant contribution to historical scholarship… Simply for giving us this lucid account, Mazower deserves our gratitude. But Governing the World is also an intriguing read because of the strong argument he places within it: that it may be that this grand idea, with all its variants, is coming to an end.”—Paul Kennedy, Financial Times
“Fascinating…A well-articulated, meticulously supported study.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Mark Mazower has strengthened his claim to be the preeminent historian of a generation…On rare occasions, a work of history emerges that not only fundamentally refashions our understanding of the past, it enables us to reassess the present and, with luck, influence our future. I advise everyone who is concerned about our precarious situation to learn from and absorb Mazower’s remarkable achievement.”—Misha Glenny
“A dramatic, novel account of ideas and institutions in collision with hard realities. Indispensable also for its full and subtle account of American policies since 1917, always with a fine touch for the hitherto neglected person or little noticed moment that illuminates historic processes. Profound, relevant, and morally instructive—and a pleasure to read.”—Fritz Stern
Director of the Center for International History at Columbia University, award-winning author Mazower seems good and ready to discuss world government from the post-Napoleonic era forward. Go for it, history fans.
Mazower (History/Columbia Univ. Hitler's Empire: How the Nazis Ruled Europe, 2008, etc.) explores the evolution of internationalism. The idea is essentially a Western creation, originating from the "Concert of Europe" in 1815 by the great powers in the wake of Napoleon's defeat, and marking an important effort to keep sovereigns in check and create a more just "brotherhood" of nations. While the "Big Four" nations (Austria, Russia, Britain and Prussia) were more interested in policing revolutionary insurrections and restoring the principles of monarchy, they still recognized that there was too much at stake not to work together at "fundamental rules of the game." Avoiding lawlessness and anarchy was the impulse, and many leaders sought to embrace the promotion of a law of nations and universal peace. Mazower considers some fascinating mid-19th-century currents flowing from the international groundswell--e.g., in futuristic literature (foreshadowing H.G. Wells), the peace movement, free trade, Giuseppe Mazzini's influential notion of nationalism, communism, the founding of the Red Cross, the arbitration movement and the hope that science could develop universal humanitarian standards. After tracing the early strands of internationalism, Mazower moves into the modern's era complex convergence of political and economic factors in forging what Mikhail Gorbachev called a "new world order." The peacetime League of Nations, despite its failures, would "marry the democratic idea of a society of nations with the reality of Great Power hegemony." Finally, Mazower brings us to the present, as a European union has been achieved, but has been driven by a "bureaucratic elite" with little sense of "principles of social solidarity and human dignity," except perhaps by noted philanthropists. A well-articulated, meticulously supported study.