John Bew Realpolitik: A History

ISBN 13: 9780199331932

Realpolitik: A History

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9780199331932: Realpolitik: A History

Since its coinage in mid-19th century Germany, Realpolitik has proven both elusive and protean. To some, it represents the best approach to meaningful change and political stability in a world buffeted by uncertainty and rapid transformation. To others, it encapsulates an attitude of cynicism and cold calculation, a transparent and self-justifying policy exercised by dominant nations over weaker. Remolded across generations and repurposed to its political and ideological moment, Realpolitik remains a touchstone for discussion about statecraft and diplomacy. It is a freighted concept.

Historian John Bew explores the genesis of Realpolitik, tracing its longstanding and enduring relevance in political and foreign policy debates. Bew's book uncovers the context that gave birth to Realpolitik-that of the fervor of radical change in 1848 in Europe. He explains its application in the conduct of foreign policy from the days of Bismarck onward. Lastly, he illuminates its translation from German into English, one that reveals the uniquely Anglo-American version of realpolitik-small "r"-being practiced today, a modern iteration that attempts to reconcile idealism with the pursuit of national interests.

Lively, encyclopedic, and utterly original, Realpolitik: A History illuminates the life and times of a term that has shaped and will continue to shape international relations.

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About the Author:


John Bew teaches history and foreign policy at the War Studies Department at King's College London. Previously he was a Lecturer in Modern British History at Cambridge. In 2013 he was named to the Kissinger Chair at the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress. He is the author for four books, most recently Castlereagh: A Life.

Review:


"An interesting and wide-ranging examination of [the term 'realpolitik']."
--The American Conservative


"By taking us back to the origins of Realpolitik John Bew shows how a long-established strategic concept doesn't mean what we thought it meant, and in the process throws new light on the history of thinking about international affairs."
--Sir Lawrence Freedman, Emeritus Professor of War Studies, King's College London, author of Strategy: A History


"[A] well-researched, fluently written, and groundbreaking book."
--Commentary Magazine"


"One of Bew's most valuable services to scholarship in the book is in tracing the intellectual development of the European émigrés like Hans Morgenthau and Arnold Wolfers who helped stimulate the postwar American school of realism in international-relations theory."
--The National Interest


"[A] heavily researched, readable and comprehensive review of political and diplomatic history."
--Wall Street Journal


"Bew's book is a fascinating biography of an idea."
--Washington Free Beacon


"[A] fascinating quest to refine our understanding of yet another semantic import from Germany - the concept of realpolitik . . . In its careful, evenhanded, analysis of one of the Western world's most consequential intellectual traditions, Professor Bew's book harks back to the finest tradition of British scholarship, bringing to mind the work of people such as Lawrence Freedman, Hew Strachan, or Michael Howard. In fact, this reviewer can think of no better companion volume to this future classic than Howard's seminal work on Europe's other great foreign policy tradition - liberalism."
--War on the Rocks


"Lively, encyclopedic, and utterly original."
--New Books Network


"So thorough is Bew in recounting the history of the use of the word (realpolitik) that it is difficult to imagine that there is much left to discover."
-- The Weekly Standard


"Realpolitik is one of those words that everybody uses but nobody understands. In this thoughtful, lucid and deeply researched book, John Bew shows how debates over its meaning helped shape some of the biggest foreign policy debates of the last 150 years. Anybody who cares about power, war and diplomacy in the modern world needs to read this book."
--Walter Russell Mead, James Clarke Chace Professor of Foreign Affairs and Humanities at Bard College and Professor of American Foreign Policy at Yale University


"There are so many high points in the book that one is spoiled for choice...Bew's is an account that will be returned to again and again for illumination on the most protean, occasionally incoherent but nonetheless successful riposte, if not to liberalism at home, certainly to liberalism abroad."
--International Affairs


"Lively, encyclopedic, and utterly original, Realpolitik illuminates the life and times of a term that has shaped and will continue to shape international relations."
--ew Books Network


"Here the real realpolitik is principled but prudent, knowing thoroughly the existing circumstances that give rise not only to the limits of statecraft but also to its possibilities."
--The Weekly Standard


"The discussions triggered by Realpolitik: A History are conveniently timely as Britain considers whether it should remain in the European Union, as the British Labour party quarrels over whether its leader's "new politics" is realistic or desirable, and as the Democratic Party decides on what reality is realistic; Bernie's or Hillary's. Bew provides advice for all involved in these struggles. The book's concluding chapter, in particular, should be required reading for those who find themselves in these simplified battles between ideals and reality; politics is ultimately the effective marriage of both."
--The Strix


"It would be a mistake, Bew's analysis implies, to interpret such competing uses of the term as merely reflecting differing evaluations of Realpolitik. For the story he tells is one of ambiguity, contestation, and transformation in what the term denotes."
--H-Net Reviews


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Book Description Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2016. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Realpolitik is approaching its 160th birthday, though it has existed as a form of statecraft for centuries and is arguably as old as the conduct of foreign affairs itself. Associated with great thinkers from Machiavelli to Kissinger, it is deeply rooted in the history of diplomacy yet also remains strikingly relevant to debates on contemporary foreign policy in the Obama administration today. Despite the fact that Realpolitik has had something of a renaissance in recent years, however, it remains a surprisingly elusive notion, defying easy categorization. In this concise book, John Bew aims to address this gap, offering a history of the concept of Realpolitik in the English-speaking world: its origins as an idea; its practical application to statecraft in the recent past; and its relevance to the foreign policy challenges facing the United States and its allies in the future. Now most often associated with the conduct of foreign policy, Realpolitik has traditionally had pejorative connotations in the English-speaking world and sits uneasily alongside notions of enlightenment, morality and virtue. But it has also had its defenders, admirers and exponents, who regard it as the best tool for the successful wielding of political power and the preservation of global order. As such, Realpolitik has both successes and failures to its name, as Bew s comprehensive and even-handed overview displays. Bew begins by charting the evolution of the idea through the work of important thinkers or statesmen from Machiavelli, Cardinal de Richelieu, and Thomas Hobbes up through Carl Schmitt, Kissinger, and Dennis Ross. He then examines how Realpolitik has been evoked and operationalized in US and UK foreign policy during specific episodes in the twentieth century, looking at such cases as the overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1953, and President Nixon s visit to the People s Republic of China in 1972 - often taken as the archetypal instance of Realpolitik in action. Bew then uses this historical platform to look forward to emerging foreign policy challenges in a changing, multi-polar, geo-political scene - in which Realpolitik and agile statecraft seems as important as ever. Suggesting that there is a uniquely Anglo-American version of Realpolitik, which reflects an attempt (not always a successful one) to reconcile Western ideological and moral norms with purely utilitarian conceptions of the national interest, Bew argues that a more accurate and sustainable version of Anglo-American Realpolitik is one that recognizes the draw Enlightenment values and ideas. Directed at a broader audience of current policy-makers, legislators and commentators with an interest in foreign affairs, this is a brilliant introduction to an important topic from one of the field s rising stars. Bookseller Inventory # AOP9780199331932

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Book Description Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2016. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Realpolitik is approaching its 160th birthday, though it has existed as a form of statecraft for centuries and is arguably as old as the conduct of foreign affairs itself. Associated with great thinkers from Machiavelli to Kissinger, it is deeply rooted in the history of diplomacy yet also remains strikingly relevant to debates on contemporary foreign policy in the Obama administration today. Despite the fact that Realpolitik has had something of a renaissance in recent years, however, it remains a surprisingly elusive notion, defying easy categorization. In this concise book, John Bew aims to address this gap, offering a history of the concept of Realpolitik in the English-speaking world: its origins as an idea; its practical application to statecraft in the recent past; and its relevance to the foreign policy challenges facing the United States and its allies in the future. Now most often associated with the conduct of foreign policy, Realpolitik has traditionally had pejorative connotations in the English-speaking world and sits uneasily alongside notions of enlightenment, morality and virtue. But it has also had its defenders, admirers and exponents, who regard it as the best tool for the successful wielding of political power and the preservation of global order. As such, Realpolitik has both successes and failures to its name, as Bew s comprehensive and even-handed overview displays. Bew begins by charting the evolution of the idea through the work of important thinkers or statesmen from Machiavelli, Cardinal de Richelieu, and Thomas Hobbes up through Carl Schmitt, Kissinger, and Dennis Ross. He then examines how Realpolitik has been evoked and operationalized in US and UK foreign policy during specific episodes in the twentieth century, looking at such cases as the overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1953, and President Nixon s visit to the People s Republic of China in 1972 - often taken as the archetypal instance of Realpolitik in action. Bew then uses this historical platform to look forward to emerging foreign policy challenges in a changing, multi-polar, geo-political scene - in which Realpolitik and agile statecraft seems as important as ever. Suggesting that there is a uniquely Anglo-American version of Realpolitik, which reflects an attempt (not always a successful one) to reconcile Western ideological and moral norms with purely utilitarian conceptions of the national interest, Bew argues that a more accurate and sustainable version of Anglo-American Realpolitik is one that recognizes the draw Enlightenment values and ideas. Directed at a broader audience of current policy-makers, legislators and commentators with an interest in foreign affairs, this is a brilliant introduction to an important topic from one of the field s rising stars. Bookseller Inventory # AOP9780199331932

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