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The Twenty Years' Crisis, 1919-1939: Reissued with new introduction Paperback – Sep 19 2001

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; 2001 edition (Sept. 19 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0333963776
  • ISBN-13: 978-0333963777
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.5 x 21.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 440 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #134,834 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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'The Twenty Years' Crisis is one of those books that somehow never goes out of date.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

' 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 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 Crossman

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The science of international politics is in its infancy. Read the first page
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Format: Paperback
Much of the appeal of realism stems from a belief that it's more grounded in reality and pragmatism. In this way, it's often the bias of choice for academics simply because it makes one's ideas appear more legitimate. Here's a case in point: Carr spends nearly the entire book ripping apart utopianism and pluralism, as any "good realist" would be apt to do, only to reach the last chapter where he declares liberalism is the only hope for mankind. So it's clear that he wasn't really a true Realist, but used it for improving his career prospects. It obviously worked, because The Twenty Years' Crisis is considered a classic work in realism. Nonetheless, Carr comes up with some great insights. He correctly predicts the rise of nonstate actors. Though he is wrong in thinking colonization would continue for the long haul in its current form, yet he predicts the move away from expansionism in favor of interchangeable puppet governments and international subversion. Carr has great advice when he says war will continue until nations begin sacrificing for one another, something that U.S. actions in Latin America and the United Fruit Company fiasco chose to disregard. My favorite point is when he says absolute peace is only possible when there is a larger, common threat that subunits can mobilize against. Earth cannot unite against the impending threat from the Planet Mars, for instance. Well, maybe there are no Martians, but perhaps there's someone else out there...
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Format: Paperback
The work itself is too famous to be added with any non-professional accounts. This update, however, a very precious one in a sense, mainly because the fact that the author, E.H.Carr, did make a change from the 1st edition to the 2nd edition is lucidly explained. For some the change Carr had made is critical, since that was deeply concerned with his attitude on appeasement policy, especially the Munich Agreement in 1938. This is why M.Fox includes the both prefaces and his explanation on the difference as well as a well-written introduction to the work and others. I think this is a very important update we have been waiting for.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa73811b0) out of 5 stars 14 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7c1b978) out of 5 stars Defence for realism and support for pluralism Aug. 19 2007
By James Scott - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book should be considered one of the `core' readings within the sphere of international relations, essential for any student of the subject. However Carr is not necessarily the diehard realist that he is sometimes made out to be. Despite being quoted by numerous texts as part of the realism school, Carr makes clear early on in his book that while he disagrees with pluralism and does a good job defending realism, he then goes onto state that firstly, pluralist theories go on to become realist ones and secondly, that pluralist theories are a necessary and essential element. An interesting observation, from which could be drawn the conclusion that there is no 'right' school of thought, simply revolving ideas and concepts.

An insightful and interesting work, that should be required reading for anyone serious about international relations.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa734575c) out of 5 stars The Classic Study of Realism in International Relations Par Excellence Oct. 7 2011
By A Certain Bibliophile - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book, perhaps the one for which Carr is best remembered, was written immediately before the start of World War II, and is considered one of the seminal texts of international relations. In fact, the preface to the first edition is dated September 30, 1939, a mere four weeks after the Wehrmacht invaded Poland. This is by no means incidental to the content, either. "Twenty Years' Crisis" is a thoroughgoing critique of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century international politics and especially the assumptions on which they rest.

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.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7c1bd74) out of 5 stars Great look at early IR theory Jan. 23 2008
By Lehigh History Student - Published on
Format: Paperback
E. H. Carr provides an overview of international relations theory at a time when it was not a defined discipline. The real value of this book is seeing just how far sighted E. H. Carr was. The book itself is a basic overview of the tenants of international relations theory using the twenty years between the two wars as a case study. It looks primarily at the realist model but also brings in ethics and international law into his discussion. For those who are looking for an entertaining and fun read of IR Theory this is a great place to go. It has several updated introductions for the more serious scholar but Carr's work itself is a great study for those interested in IR and has a real love of it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa702e258) out of 5 stars A Good Read That Will Pique Your Curiosity Nov. 5 2015
By Anthony - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Twenty Years’ Crisis (1919-1939) by Edward Hallet Carr is a book that I discovered while reading another book on the topic of the inter war period. I am giving this book 4 stars because I think Edward Hallett Carr provides a fantastic overview of the international tensions that existed during this time period. His analysis is quite expansive.

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).
20 of 30 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7c1b828) out of 5 stars Realism Lite Feb. 1 2000
By Ashok Karra - Published on
Format: Paperback
When we talk about realism, we often think about Kissinger or Morgenthau, both of which are awfully boring when one really tries to keep focused on their work.
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.
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