- Amazon Student members save an additional 10% on Textbooks with promo code TEXTBOOK10. Enter code TEXTBOOK10 at checkout. Here's how (restrictions apply)
The Twenty Years' Crisis, 1919-1939: Reissued with new introduction Paperback – Sep 19 2001
Special Offers and Product Promotions
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
No Kindle device required. Download one of the Free Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, and computer.
To get the free app, enter your e-mail address or mobile phone number.
From Library Journal
In Carr's 1939 title, one of the first serious studies in the area of international relations, he discusses theories of society, the nature of politics, the military, and more. This edition has been updated by Michael Cox, a professor of international politics at the University of Wales, Aberstwyth, where Carr himself was a professor decades earlier. This is more for the academic crowd.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
'Apparently overtaken by events in the very days of its first publication, Carr's Twenty Years Crisis has never been more pertinent to the discussion of international relations than it is to-day: in a world beset by the twin extremes which he excoriated, a craven and short-sighted realism on the one hand, and an unanchored and irresponsible idealism on the other, Carr's astute arguments should be central to our analysis of, and response to, the world of the twenty-first century.' - Fred Halliday
'The Twenty Years' Crisis is one of those books that somehow never goes out of date. It brings into sharp focus a lot of the core questions that anyone grappling with the complexities of International Relations needs to confront, and it sets a standard of clarity and vigour of prose that has few competitors in the contemporary IR literature.' - Professor Barry Buzan, University of Westminster
'...now is the time to relaunch The Twenty Years' Crisis as a basis for rethinking the problem of world order in a time of greater complexity and uncertainty. [Carr's] exposure of the power relations underlying doctrines of the harmony of interests is especially pertinent to a serious understanding of the ideology of globalization today, while his careful discussion of the need to balance power and morality warns against the hypocrisy of contemporary great-power crusading.' - Professor Robert Cox, Emeritus Professor, York University, Canada
'In the 20th century E.H. Carr was one of the most original and interesting thinkers about international relations. Carr's insights into the nature of international affairs warrant attention. Everyone interested in international politics should read this book.' - Robert Gilpin, Eisenhower Professor Emeritus of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University
'the net influence of the book...is mischievous.' - Norman Angell
'brilliantly reasoned.' - R.W. Seton-Watson
'A brilliant, provocative and unsatisfying book.' - Martin Wight
'Carr is the consummate debunker who was debunked by the war itself.' - Arnold Toynbee
'Professor Carr has shown the entire inadequacy of Professors Zimmern and Toynbee: who will demonstrate the entire inadequacy of Professor Carr?' - Richard CrossmanSee all Product Description
Inside This Book(Learn More)
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
An insightful and interesting work, that should be required reading for anyone serious about international relations.
It can be broken up into roughly two sections; the first is more theoretical in approach, while the second part analyzes certain instances of political structures, treaties, and international relations that support his theoretical assertions. I'm much more interested in the theory, so my focus in this review will be the first half, where Carr explores utopianism, realism, and their intellectual genealogies.
After the end of the Great War, a popular idea in diplomatic circles was that only irrationality and aggression could possibly start another war, and only the construction of a set of international institutions, like the League of Nations, could prevent a similar breakout. That certainly is a pleasing thought, considering how much carnage and loss of life there was. This hope, which Carr identifies as a naïve and empty sentiment, is perhaps the most conspicuous symptom of what he calls "utopianism." Utopians "pay little attention to existing `facts' or to the analysis of cause and effect, but will devote themselves wholeheartedly to the elaboration of visionary projects for the attainment of the ends they have in view - projects whose simplicity and perfection gives them an easy and universal appeal" (5). Carr associates utopianism with the more intellectual strains in international relations, imputing the label to those with "the inclination to ignore what was and what is in contemplation of what should be." Utopians put their moral ideals before political observation and empiricism. He traces utopianism to the willed, persistent belief in "the harmony of interests" - the common assumption that the pursuit of individual self-interest will necessarily dovetail with the interests of the nation as a whole. This idea is similar to the social Darwinism which also populated much nineteenth-century European social thought.
Realism can in many ways be thought of as the antithesis of utopianism. Realists let observation, national interests, and power inform their view of international policy. Realists have "the inclination to deduce what should be from what was and what is." Whereas utopians let morality inform their politics, realists let their politics inform their morality. Because of the rationalist, Weberian strains Carr associates with realism, he associated realism with the bureaucrat instead of the intellectual.
While this book is often listed as the first defense of realism, Carr is extraordinarily fair-minded, and openly admits that there are problems with this approach, too. Importantly, realism fails to provide the idealism that any international policy must have. As Carr says, "Most of all, consistent realism breaks down because it fails to provide any ground for purposive or meaningful action. If the sequence of cause and effect is sufficiently rigid to permit of the `scientific prediction' of events, if our thought is irrevocably conditioned by status and our interests, then both action and thought become devoid of purpose" (92).
Because of the respective strengths and weaknesses of utopianism and realism, Carr concludes the theoretical portion of the book by suggesting that any meaningful, pragmatic political approach must rest somewhere near the middle of the realist/utopian continuum. "We return therefore to the conclusion that any sound political thought must be based on elements of both utopia and reality. Where utopianism has become a hollow and intolerable sham which serves merely as a disguise for the interests of the privileged, the realist performs an indispensable service in unmasking it. But pure realism can offer nothing but a naked struggle for power which makes any kind of international society impossible" (93).
In the second part of the book, Carr asserts that utopians were so concerned with preventing another Great War, they began to completely ignore the element of power in international relations. For example, utopians assumed that all nations had the same interests in maintaining peace, and for the same reasons. A simple look at the actual milieu of European politics leading up to both World Wars I and II will suggest something different.
He also spends a good deal of time pointing out how the three kinds of power that operate in international politics - economic, military, and public opinion - can't be analyzed separately and have to be considered interdependently. Also, because (at least at that time) the international community has not agreed upon a means of resolving international disputes, treaties are barely worth the paper they're printed on since countries can opt out on trivial conditions. It would have been interesting to see how the formation of the United Nations and the International Court of Justice would have changed Carr's option on this point, if at all.
For being over seventy years old, Carr's analysis is still fresh, fascinating, and convincing. The only part that dates the book is the second half that looks at actual international events, since nothing after 1939 is covered. I did have to read up a little on the some of the treaties that are now lesser-known, like the Treaty of Locarno and the Franco-Soviet Treaty, but Carr very much rewards the reader's effort in this respect. I would recommend this to anyone with an interest in the history of international relations, or anyone who wants a full-throated defense of realism and its place in the field.
He covers all of the competing philosophies that precluded WWI:
• Utopian Ideologies versus those of Realism
The book discusses the main international actors (both individuals and nation states) that promoted the utopian ideology versus those that promoted the ideology of realism. Carr thoroughly compares the two ideologies and offers a critique of both. He shows how the push and pull of these two ideologies manifested through military conflict, economic conflict and ultimately lead down a path that started WWI and then, ultimately, lead to “international cooperation”.
The stage for this international cooperation was the science of International Relations. The conceptualization of International Relations as an idea really began after WWI. This is when the nation states of the world were motivated into looking at things on an international level.
The book is meant to be academic in nature so at times it can get a little esoteric. Never the less, it really does an excellent job in highlighting the progression of ideologies that lead to The Great War. It is a great introduction on a myriad of topics that the reader can use as a jumping off point for additional research or casual reading. To me, the sign of a good book is one that makes you think and makes you want to go out and read other books related to the main topic.
In conclusion, I really liked the book, especially the first two-thirds of the book. The only reason I am not giving it 5 stars is because it gets a little circular/repetitive at times and I feel like his conclusion was a little unresolved.
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in this topic, or anyone that is looking for research material related to this time period (topic).
But E.H. Carr preceded both these fine gentlemen, and Carr is at his finest here displaying a sarcastic wit and overall nasty tone in ripping apart the overly idealistic liberal position adopted by Wilson, Kellogg or Briand, who really thought that world peace could be had through ineffectual action via international organizations and lots of talking between nations.
Carr, in true realist guise (pre-Morgenthau, at least), doesn't elaborate on any principles that could be used to form a coherent theory. But the strengths of this book are in helping those who don't fully appreciate why WW2 came about understand the failure of liberalism, and in entertaining those of us in IR who are bored with the standard IR readings. This book is hilarious, and is certainly worth reading. Just don't expect it to be terribly profound.
Look for similar items by category
- Books > History > Americas > United States > 20th Century > World War II
- Books > History > Military > World War II
- Books > History > United States > 20th Century > World War II
- Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics > History & Theory
- Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics > International > Relations
- Books > Qualifying Textbooks - Fall 2007 > Humanities
- Books > Textbooks > Humanities > History > Military
- Books > Textbooks > Social Sciences > Political Science > International Relations
- Books > Textbooks > Social Sciences > Political Science > Political History