Winnipeg Free Press
“This informative look at successful immigration hubs worldwide explores what New York-based American academics Karl Meyer and Shareen Blair Brysac call ‘oases of civility.'
it is not overburdened by specialized jargon or turgid academic prose. Non-specialists in the social sciences will find it accessible and, because of the breadth of the subject matter, containing much food for thought.”
“[It] elegantly blends political history, sociology, anthropology and journalism, to provide big ideas for peace
. Pax Ethnica dares to look at one of the world's seemingly most intractable problems from a new perspective that is fresh and innovative.”
Toronto Globe & Mail
“An interesting and encouraging glimpse into five cases where diversity seems to succeed.”
“A good-news book, based on serious research, about how traditionally hostile groups can overcome differences to live in harmony
. The authors on-the-ground reporting is impressive, especially given the built-in language barriers
. A skillful rendering of an inspiring message.”
Victor S. Navasky
“Given the clashing creeds, cultures and ethnicities that plague our planet, is peace possible? It's hard to imagine a more thoughtful and creative, attempt to answer this question than the original, surprising and sophisticated case studies (‘sane oases in a fanatic world') that Meyer and Brysac provide in thoughtful and accessible prose, in this oddly reassuring book.”
Robert Jay Lifton, author of Witness to an Extreme Century: A Memoir
“After reading this book one will forever question the shibboleth of unyielding ‘ancient hatreds' and recognize that thoughtful leadership and wise policies can turn ethnic diversity into tolerable and tolerated coexistence. Pax Ethnica will take its place among original social and historical works in our time.”
Barbara Crossette, author of So Close to Heaven: The Vanishing Buddhist Kingdoms of the Himalayas
“In an age of ethnic strife, this inspired and prescient book takes readers to places where good people and good policies make peace prevail, in five regions as different as India's Kerala state and New York City's borough of Queens, perhaps the most multicultural place on earth. Diversity is the global future, and Pax Ethnica lays out some proven pathways to successful coexistence.”
“In their new book, Pax Ethnica, two great journalists, Karl Meyer and Shareen Brysac, argue that day in and day out ethnic conflict and tension along religious and cultural lines makes for reliable, if dispiriting, headlines. Journalists regularly play plenty of attention to failed states, sectarian violence and societies at the breaking point. But what about those unsung exceptions, the communities of the world where diverse groups live together in harmony?... One can't be quite so pessimistic about the world's divisions if one studies these five examples. Why don't the media focus more on what works?
Robert G. Kaiser, author of So Damn Much Money
“Karl Meyer and Shareen Brysac call themselves independent scholars, but they are also old-fashioned, shoe-leather reporters, and it is the combination of scholarly sensibilities and reportorial enthusiasm that makes their book such a delight. They started with a smart idea about the importance of multi-ethnic communities that thrive, then tested it against the realities of five such communities from Queens in New York to Kerala in India. The result is an engaging, provocative and satisfying book on one of the most important topics of our time.”
Donald W Shriver, President Emeritus, Union Theological Seminary, New York
“By identifying five vibrant, diverse communities around the world whose ‘get along,' this book demonstrates that a pluralistic human society is no mere dream. If it has happened in those five places, it must be possible elsewhere.”
A good-news book, based on serious research, about how traditionally hostile groups can overcome differences to live in harmony. Meyer and Brysac, a married couple, have written previous books together (Kingmakers: The Invention of the Modern Middle East, 2008, etc.) and separately. By examining "neglected oases of civility," they break from the conventional wisdom that ethnic and religious strife are inevitable when perceived enemies share geographic space. These oases include Flensburg, a northern German city emerging from the Schleswig-Holstein region, the longtime border area contested by the warriors of Denmark; the Republic of Tatarstan in the former Soviet Union, where the Muslim majority and the substantial Orthodox Christian minority coexist peacefully; Marseille, France, where a population that is about one-quarter Muslim, an unusually high percentage for a European nation, mingles successfully with sizable Orthodox Christian and Jewish populations; the state of Kerala in India, a densely populated entity bordering the Arabian Sea, where Hindu, Muslim and Christian communities have practiced mutual respect; and Queens, N.Y., where more than 2 million residents speak 138 languages. The authors on-the-ground reporting is impressive, especially given the built-in language barriers. Near the end of the book, Meyer and Brysac share 11 guidelines "promoting civility in diverse societies," which include public grappling by government and private authorities with stereotypes of unpopular minorities; free reign of minority languages within the larger society; constructing housing to integrate diverse populations rather than segregate them; developing public libraries as community centers to overcome language and other cultural differences; empowering women as well as men; and harnessing popular culture to cross societal barriers. A skillful rendering of an inspiring message.