New Books in European Politics

New Books Network

Interviews with scholars of modern European politics about their new books read less
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Episodes

Traian Sandu, "Ceausescu: The Ambiguous Dictator" (Perrin, 2023)
1w ago
Traian Sandu, "Ceausescu: The Ambiguous Dictator" (Perrin, 2023)
Today I talked to Traian Sandu about his book Ceausescu: Le dictateur ambigu (Perrin, 2023).  Born in January 1918, Nicolae Ceauşescu began his apprenticeship in Bucharest and discovered the social struggle and its repression at the age of fifteen within the Romanian Communist Party. In 1948, the Stalinist Gheorghiu-Dej, his mentor, having taken power, he took the opportunity to quickly climb the ranks of the party and the state. Installed in power in March 1965, Ceauşescu inherited the policy of his predecessor: avoiding de-Stalinization by playing the nationalist card. Its beginnings were popular thanks to a certain cultural liberalization, the beginning of a consumer society and an opening towards the West. However, the oil shocks and the détente between the United States and the Soviet Union in the mid-1970s deprived him of the resources needed to pursue his policy.  His role as a bridge between East and West, his industrialization policy based on Western capital and technologies and his popularity within Romanian society collapsed at the turn of the 1980s. The beginning of social and political opposition (strikes and dissidence), the decision to repay the debt to Western institutions (IMF and World Bank) which led to cruel shortages and the end of the Cold War with the arrival of Gorbachev sounded the death knell for his regime which collapsed in three days in December 1989. The one who called himself the "genius of the Carpathians", or even the "Danube of thought", was executed with his wife, Elena, at the end of a particularly hasty trial, ending a strange revolution in which many saw the hand of the Soviet "big brother". Between autocratic drift and reformist desires, nationalism and submission to the USSR, growing paranoia and all-consuming megalomania, the man remained a mystery. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Aaron Clift, "Anticommunism in French Society and Politics, 1945-1953" (Oxford UP, 2023)
Mar 25 2024
Aaron Clift, "Anticommunism in French Society and Politics, 1945-1953" (Oxford UP, 2023)
Anticommunism in French Society and Politics, 1945-1953 (Oxford UP, 2023) evaluates the prevalence of anticommunism among the French population in 1945 to 1953, and examines its causes, character, and consequences through a series of case studies on different segments of French society. These include the scouting movement; family organisations; agricultural associations; middle-class groups; and trade unions and other working-class organisations. Aaron Clift contends that anticommunism was more widespread and deeply rooted than previously believed, and had a substantial impact on national politics and on these social groups and organisations.  Furthermore, he argues that the study of anticommunism allows us a deeper understanding of the values they regarded as the most important to defend. Although anticommunism was a diverse phenomenon, this work identifies common discourses, including portrayals of communism as a threat to the nation; the colonial empire; the traditional family; private property; religion; the rural world; and Western civilisation. It also highlights common aims (such as the rehabilitation of wartime collaborators) and tactics (such as the invocation of apoliticism). While acknowledging the importance of the Cold War, it rejects the assumption that anticommunism was an American import or foreign to French society and demonstrates links between anticommunism and anti-Americanism. It concludes that anticommunism drew its strength from the connection or even conflation of communism with perceived negative social changes that were seen to threaten traditional French civilisation, interacting with the postwar international and domestic environment and the personal experiences of individual anticommunists. Aaron Clift received his doctorate from the University of Oxford in 2022, following a Master's at the University of Toronto and a Bachelor's at the University of Victoria. After a stint as a Postdoctoral History Scholar at the University of Calgary, Dr. Clift is now a Fellow at the London School of Economics where he teaches and researches on the Cold War period. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Alina Nychyk, "Ukraine Vis-à-Vis Russia and the EU: Misperceptions of Foreign Challenges in Times of War, 2014-2015" (Ibidem Press, 2023)
Mar 16 2024
Alina Nychyk, "Ukraine Vis-à-Vis Russia and the EU: Misperceptions of Foreign Challenges in Times of War, 2014-2015" (Ibidem Press, 2023)
Ukraine Vis-à-Vis Russia and the EU: Misperceptions of Foreign Challenges in Times of War, 2014-2015 (Ibidem Press, 2023) investigates the making of Ukraine’s foreign policy towards the European Union and Russia between February 2014 and February 2015. To contextualize the events of the first year of the Russian-Ukrainian War, Nychyk lays out the history of the EU-Ukraine-Russia triangle since 1991 and draws lessons relevant for the 2022 Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The book is based on her doctoral research and rests on a game-theory-inspired approach to foreign policy analysis. It relies on 38 elite interviews, official documents, and media reports. Nychyk uncovers various mutual misperceptions in EU-Ukraine-Russia relations. Looking at Ukraine’s ‘side of the story’, her analysis shows how Russian assertiveness and the EU’s passivity, but also Ukrainian leaders’ limited crisis management experience and erroneous policy decisions contributed to worse outcomes for Ukraine. The latter included poor analysis of foreign interlocutors, trust in their good intentions, and corruption. After 2015, a persistence—although with certain changes—of some of these pathologies left Ukraine in a weaker position in the face of Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Ali Bhagat, "Governing the Displaced: Race and Ambivalence in Global Capitalism" (Cornell UP, 2024)
Mar 14 2024
Ali Bhagat, "Governing the Displaced: Race and Ambivalence in Global Capitalism" (Cornell UP, 2024)
Governing the Displaced: Race and Ambivalence in Global Capitalism (Cornell UP, 2024) answers a straightforward question: how are refugees governed under capitalism in this moment of heightened global displacement? To answer this question, Ali Bhagat takes a dual case study approach to explore three dimensions of refugee survival in Paris and Nairobi: shelter, work, and political belonging. Bhagat's book makes sense of a global refugee regime along the contradictory fault lines of passive humanitarianism, violent exclusion, and organized abandonment in the European Union and East Africa. The book highlights the interrelated and overlapping features of refugee governance and survival in these seemingly disparate places. In its intersectional engagement with theories of racial capitalism with respect to right-wing populism, labor politics, and the everyday forms of exclusion, the book is a timely and necessary contribution to the field of migration studies and to political economy. Ali Bhagat is a PhD in Political Studies (Queen's University) and works largely on the topic of global displacement in relation to racial capitalism. As an international political economist, he is interested in the intersections of race, class, and sexuality and has worked on issues pertaining to LGBTQ+ refugees in particular. His work is based in qualitative methods drawing from interviews, policy analysis, and other ethnographic techniques. Ali’s work cuts across the everyday political economy of housing, work, finance, and political belonging. Lamis Abdelaaty is an associate professor of political science at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. She is the author of Discrimination and Delegation: Explaining State Responses to Refugees (Oxford University Press, 2021). Email her comments at labdelaa@syr.edu Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Emil Hilton Saggau, "Nationalisation of the Sacred: Orthodox Historiography, Memory, and Politics in Montenegro" (Peter Lang, 2023)
Mar 11 2024
Emil Hilton Saggau, "Nationalisation of the Sacred: Orthodox Historiography, Memory, and Politics in Montenegro" (Peter Lang, 2023)
The Eastern Orthodox Churches in post-communist Eastern Europe are embroiled in long-running conflicts over ownership of territory, saints, sites, nations, and history. These often violent conflicts reflect political and national rivalries, most explicitly in former Yugoslavia and Ukraine. They are often understood as simplified ethnic-national tensions with religious overtones, but, as this book demonstrations, such an assessment overlooks the deeper theological and historiographical framework. Emil Hilton Saggau's book Nationalisation of the Sacred: Orthodox Historiography, Memory, and Politics in Montenegro (Peter Lang, 2023) offers a detailed analysis of the theological backdrop behind these conflicts. It analyses how various strands of Eastern Orthodoxy have adapted to the contemporary political context, a process where history, memory, and politics are transformed to fit the needs of rival nations and churches. The book provides an in-depth analysis of this process and the transformations in church-related conflicts in post-communist Montenegro, where the Serbian Orthodox Church has been pitted against a rival Montenegrin church and Montenegrin government. Additionally the book provides an up-to-date and unique analysis of Eastern Orthodox historiography, modern Serbian theology, religion in Montenegro more broadly, and the roots of the violent clash between Orthodox believers and the Montenegrin government in 2019-2021. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Matthew Longo, "The Picnic: A Dream of Freedom and the Collapse of the Iron Curtain" (Norton, 2024)
Mar 8 2024
Matthew Longo, "The Picnic: A Dream of Freedom and the Collapse of the Iron Curtain" (Norton, 2024)
The Picnic: A Dream of Freedom and The Collapse of the Iron Curtain (Norton, 2024) is a truly fascinating narrative—exploring a little-known event that happened in the border area between Hungary and Austria in August of 1989, and ultimately contributed to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain. This Pan-European Picnic, attended by Hungarian pro-democracy advocates and East German vacationers on one side, and Austrians on the other, took place in the shadow of the Iron Curtain that had cut through Europe since the onset of the Cold War. This Iron Curtain between East and West was militarized, dangerous, and, as the title makes clear, iron in quality. The border, during the Cold War, between the Eastern Bloc and the West was one that operated more to keep citizens inside as opposed to trying to keep others out. Longo’s work here is distinct from his previous work on the U.S./Mexico border and the way that borders are distinct wherever we encounter them. The Picnic is still exploring borders, but it is an examination of a particular event at this hardened and ideological border, and how that event, in the planning for it, and the repercussions from it, led to the opening of many borders, both real and mythical. Longo also takes a different approach to his writing and narrative in The Picnic, providing the reader with an understanding of all of these events from the words and experiences of those who lived through the events and some who had a hand in them as well. The thread that traces through the entire story in The Picnic is this more elusive and complex idea of freedom. Freedom was at the heart of the activities that were planned and took place in August 1989, since the Hungarians and the East Germans were hoping to push on the literal and figurative constraints under which they lived in these Eastern Bloc countries. The understanding of the Cold War, at least from many in the West, was the denial of individual freedom, liberty, and autonomy—to have one’s life circumscribed by the state. And as we consider what happened in 1989—in June in Tiananmen Square, at this picnic in the backwoods of Hungary in August, and in the streets of Berlin in November—we often consider these events as the human drive towards freedom and against confinement. Longo tells part of this story, but through the words of those who were advocating for these political and ideological changes. The narratives also reflect on what happened after the end of the Cold War in Europe, what freedom ushered in, some of which was just as had been imagined. But there is also the underbelly that came with these openings of borders—the inflow of predatory capital, the rocky shifts away from socialism that have led, in a variety of places including Hungary, to a different form of authoritarianism. The Picnic: A Dream of Freedom and the Collapse of the Iron Curtain weaves together a variegated narrative telling a particular story from 1989 but also a longer, more complex consideration of the idea of freedom and liberty and the power of the state. Lilly J. Goren is a professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is co-host of the New Books in Political Science channel at the New Books Network. She is co-editor of The Politics of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (University Press of Kansas, 2022), as well as co-editor of the award winning book, Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012). She can be reached @gorenlj.bsky.social Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Ilmari Käihkö, "'Slava Ukraini!': Strategy and the Spirit of Ukrainian Resistance 2014–2023" (Helsinki UP, 2023)
Mar 5 2024
Ilmari Käihkö, "'Slava Ukraini!': Strategy and the Spirit of Ukrainian Resistance 2014–2023" (Helsinki UP, 2023)
In wake of the Maiden Revolution of 2013-14, the pro-Russian government of Ukraine under Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown in place of a regime seeking a more pro-Western orientation. Russia in response occupied the Crimea and helped instigate numerous pro-Russian separatist movements in the eastern regions of the country, leading to the creation of the Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic in the Donbas region. Faced with both external and internal threats to its national sovereignty, thousands of Ukrainians formed themselves up into volunteer units to help meet these challenges. Although having an ambiguous legal status, these volunteer units did prove relatively effective on the battlefield given the situation. These units helped galvanize Ukraine with a new generation of national heroes whose legacy is still shaping the nation in light of the 2022 Russian invasion. Ilmari Käihkö provides a detailed look into these volunteer units and their legacy in "Slava Ukraini!": Strategy and the Spirit of Ukrainian Resistance, 2014-2023 (Helsinki University Press, 2023). Ilmari Käihkö is an associate professor of War Studies at the Swedish Defense University, and a veteran of the Finnish Defense Forces. His research focuses on cultural sociology of war, underpinned by ethnographic study of contemporary war and warfare. Stephen Satkiewicz is an independent scholar whose research areas are related to Civilizational Analysis, Social Complexity, Big History, Historical Sociology, military history, War studies, International Relations, Geopolitics, as well as Russian and East European history. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
David P. Gushee, "Defending Democracy from Its Christian Enemies" (William B. Eerdmans, 2023)
Mar 2 2024
David P. Gushee, "Defending Democracy from Its Christian Enemies" (William B. Eerdmans, 2023)
Why do some devout Christians support authoritarian leaders who threaten the very democracies that protect religious freedoms? The resounding support from evangelical and conservative Christians for strident culture hawks like Donald Trump and other far right leaders may appear surprising, but exist within a long and broad history that spans continents and centuries. Surveying global politics and modern history, David P. Gushee calls on Christians to preserve democratic norms, including constitutional government, the rule of law, and equal rights for all. He analyzes how Christians have repeatedly put aside their commitment to the teachings of Jesus from the Gospels when they are tempted by authoritarian and reactionary leaders who promise a return to mythical greatness defined by family values, natural order, and cultural superiority. In Defending Democracy from Its Christian Enemies (William B. Eerdmans, 2023), He urges Christians to resist this urge by reviving the hard-won traditions of congregational democracy as fought for by American Baptist and Black Christian leaders. Rev. Prof. Dr. David P. Gushee (PhD, Union Theological Seminary, New York) is Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics at Mercer University, and Chair of Christian Social Ethics at Vrije Universiteit (“Free University”) Amsterdam, and Senior Research Fellow, International Baptist Theological Study Centre. Recommended reading: Hidden Roots of White Supremacy by Robert Jones Coming soon from David Gushee: The Moral Teachings of Jesus (Cascade 2024) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Marko Attila Hoare, "Serbia: A Modern History" (Oxford UP, 2024)
Feb 22 2024
Marko Attila Hoare, "Serbia: A Modern History" (Oxford UP, 2024)
“Serbia is a country that has inspired exceptional intellectual interest,” writes Marko Marko Attila Hoare in Serbia: A Modern History (Hurst/Oxford UP, 2024). “It was centrally involved in the crises marking both the start and end of Europe’s 20th century: the outbreak of World War I in 1914 and the Wars of Yugoslav Succession beginning in 1991. Yet this interest has not translated into a large English-language historiography of the country”. This exhaustive political history of Serbia from the first uprising against the Ottomans in 1804 until the collapse and occupation by the Axis powers in 1941 (and its planned sequel) is intended to help fill that gap. Marko Attila Hoare is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Sarajevo’s School of Science and Technology. He has specialised in the former Yugoslavia for 30 years, which has included hands-on work with a Bosnian relief convoy and as part of the team prosecuting Serbia's former president Slobodan Milošević in The Hague. He has taught at Cambridge and Kingston and is the author of four books on Bosnia. *The author's book recommendations are The National Question in Yugoslavia: Origins, History, Politics by Ivo Banac (Cornell University Press, 1984) and Stillborn Republic: Social Coalitions and Party Strategies In Greece, 1922– 1936 by George Mavrogordatos (University of California Press, 1992). Tim Gwynn Jones is an economic and political-risk analyst at Medley Advisors, who also writes the twenty4two newsletter on Substack and hosts the In The Room podcast series. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Risks of US-China Geoeconomic Rivalry
Feb 16 2024
Risks of US-China Geoeconomic Rivalry
What happens if the geoeconomic risks of great power rivalry materialise? What can be done to prevent these potential dangers from unfolding in small open economies, such as Finland and Sweden? More specifically, how can small state preparedness be enhanced to tackle the risks of foreign ownership, supply disruptions and high tech dependencies? How on earth can comic art be utilised to study these topics? Ines Söderström is joined by researchers of the University of Turku's "Foreign acquisitions and political retaliation as threats to supply security in an era of strategic decoupling" (ForAc) project to discuss these questions. Liisa Kauppila worked as a Senior Researcher of the ForAc project, bringing in her expertise on Futures Studies methods and China-related issues. Liisa has published very interesting articles on China’s role in the Arctic. Besides finalising her PhD at the Centre for East Asian Studies of the University of Turku, she’s currently working at the Arctic Centre of the University of Lapland in a project focusing on climate responsibility. She is also part of project that studies geopolitics of technology standards. Elina Sinkkonen works as a Senior Research Fellow at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs. Elina’s wide research expertise ranges from great power relations, China’s domestic and foreign policy, authoritarian regimes, as well as national identity and nationalism related questions. At the moment, Elina is part of two projects that look at China’s innovativeness and technological know-how from different angles. Ines Söderström worked as a research assistant in the ForAc Project. She is now finalising her master's degree at the Centre for East Asian Studies, University of Turku. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Timothy A. Sayle, "Enduring Alliance: A History of NATO and the Postwar Global Order" (Cornell UP, 2019)
Feb 11 2024
Timothy A. Sayle, "Enduring Alliance: A History of NATO and the Postwar Global Order" (Cornell UP, 2019)
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization regularly appears in newspapers and political science scholarship. Surprisingly, historians have yet to devote the attention that the organization’s history merits. Timothy A. Sayle, an Assistant Professor of history at the University of Toronto, attempts to correct this. His fascinating new book, Enduring Alliance: A History of NATO and the Postwar Global Order (Cornell University Press, 2019), examines the history of NATO from its founding in the late 1940s through to its expansion in the post-Cold War era. Sayle shows how NATO wasn’t just any organization; it was, he writes, “an instrument of great-power politics and the basis for a Pax Atlantica.” Taking his readers deep into the decision-making of NATO and its member states from the 1940s to the 1990s, Sayle provides a new, innovative international history of the second half of the twentieth century. Enduring Alliance should interest historians and scholars from across subfields—military history, U.S. foreign policy history, Cold War history, and global governance studies. Dexter Fergie is a PhD student of US and global history at Northwestern University. He is currently researching the 20th century geopolitical history of information and communications networks. He can be reached by email at dexter.fergie@u.northwestern.edu or on Twitter @DexterFergie. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices