In a brilliantly-conceived book, Jeremi Suri puts the tumultuous 1960s into a truly international perspective in the first study to examine the connections between great power diplomacy and global social protest. Profoundly disturbed by increasing social and political discontent, Cold War powers united on the international front, in the policy of detente. Though reflecting traditional balance of power considerations, detente thus also developed from a common urge for stability among leaders who by the late 1960s were worried about increasingly threatening domestic social activism.
In the early part of the decade, Cold War pressures simultaneously inspired activists and constrained leaders; within a few years activism turned revolutionary on a global scale. Suri examines the decade through leaders and protesters on three continents, including Mao Zedong, Charles de Gaulle, Martin Luther King Jr., Daniel Cohn-Bendit, and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. He describes connections between policy and protest from the Berkeley riots to the Prague Spring, from the Paris strikes to massive unrest in Wuhan, China.
Designed to protect the existing political order and repress movements for change, detente gradually isolated politics from the public. The growth of distrust and disillusion in nearly every society left a lasting legacy of global unrest, fragmentation, and unprecedented public skepticism toward authority.
Power and Protest is superb in every respect--imaginatively conceived and elegantly written. This is the most ambitious attempt I have ever seen to explicate the meaning of the cultural revolution of the 1960s and its aftermath. I find the argument provocative and on the whole persuasive. Disparate events usually presented in separate national histories are conceptually connected in what may be seen as the first truly global history of that turbulent decade. This is a most important study that will have an electrifying effect on scholarship and, one hopes, on political leaders everywhere who seem to be grappling with the question of reform versus stalemate both domestically and externally.
In the community of 'sixties scholars,' virtually all of us at one time or another have nodded sagely in agreement with the assertion that to truly understand the decade, one would need to undertake a comparative international history. In Power and Protest, Jeremi Suri boldly goes in the direction toward which the rest of us merely feebly gesture, and makes a singular contribution to our understanding of the 1960s in world history.
Jeremi Suri has liberated us from the rigid formalism of "comparative history" to the more satisfying concept of "international history." His fresh look at the 1960s links the elite world of diplomacy and international politics to shared, underlying social and cultural experiences, transcending national and class boundaries, to reveal a more complex, richer view of that unsettling moment. Suri's work is ambitious, but he delivers with thoughtful, pioneering, and rigorous analysis. Here is history on a grand scale.
Suri's portrayal of detente as counterrevolution is a brilliant rendition of the new diplomatic history. Linking social, demographic, and cultural developments to international politics and diplomacy, Suri shows how domestic protest inspired American, Russian, Chinese, French, and German leaders to collude with one another to stabilize their societies and preserve internal order. This bold and provocative book vividly illuminates the connections between domestic and international politics.
This book heralds the emergence of a newly ambitious agenda in international history, Suri ingeniously links the domestic upheavals that convulsed so many societies in the 1960s with the emergence of the international regime known as detente, giving persuasive weight to his conclusion that "foreign policy is also social policy." Drawing on prodigious research in American and European sources, Suri suggests that common features powerfully shape the lives of all modern states, regardless of their particular demographic, institutional, or ideological configurations. An impressive, original achievement.
In clear and concise prose, Suri tells the tale of the stalemate in the Cold War, the rise of global protest in the 1960s, and the coming of détente as a conservative reaction to these events...The watershed year is 1968, when Berkeley, West Berlin, Washington, Paris, Prague, and Wuhan, China were all convulsed by protests that added up to 'global disruption.' The reaction was, Suri argues, détente. Rejecting the traditional balance of power, he uses instead the 'balance of order' to describe the emerging common interest. Thereafter, Nixon, Brezhnev, Mao, and Willy Brandt worked in concert to stabilize their societies, avoid direct challenges, increase secrecy, secure arms control, and repair their personal images through treaties and summits...[I]n the final analysis, this is an indispensable new work.
This is a remarkable book which should command a good deal of attention. Not only does Jeremi Suri come up with a striking interpretation of détente but he has thought-provoking things to say about how to do international history. Above all, perhaps, Suri has produced a deeply researched monograph based on a large range of primary sources in several languages which also tackles large issues. There seems little doubt that Suri's book will stir the pot of cold war studies...This book is a major achievement and is eminently worth arguing with.
Unlike many first books, Power and Protest is no narrow specialist monograph. On the contrary, Suri draws together domestic and international developments in a meaningful, even ambitious, manner to offer a history of the 1960s on a grand scale.
- 384 pages
- 0-15/16 x 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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