Saturday, February 16, 2013

Book Review- Grand Strategies: Literature, Statecraft and World Order

Grand Strategies by Charles Hill offers some interesting insights into the building of nations and their relations to each other. The understanding of current states requires delving into the historical past. Without this knowledge one suffers from an improper perspective due to a lack of international context. Through the development of this philosophical perspective readers better understand how thoughts led to the development of a nation and modern forms of existence. 

The work uses philosophy and history to create an interesting read that will maintain your interest from cover to cover. Filled with philosophical ramblings, poetry and historical tidbits the book appears to be well researched and thought out. The state of diplomacy between nations is rift with drama and intrigue ranging from the odd to the downright ludicrous. 

In many ways the fear of government and its very purpose is the protection of people. This protection might come from foreign nations but might also come in the form of protecting ourselves from each other. Government is a product of need and thought that impacts the very manners in which we live. Such government is not perfect but is on a plane of development from one historical point to another. 

The book discusses how our chaotic tribal past created a world order from the Treaty of Westphalia. It is through this world order that nations and states have developed, existed, and inter-relate to each other. Threats to this order come in varying forms ranging from historical conflicts to new one’s experienced in modern religious conflict. 

The book discusses classical orders as seen in stories of Homer, Aeschylus, and Virgil. It moves into concepts of creative disorder from the likes of Hugo and Shakespeare. It discusses the sources of world order, the Enlightenment, America, and modern conflict. The poem The Ocean to Cynthia by Ralegh helps to understand American existence from the love of the old to the novelty of the new:

To seeke new worlds, for golde, for prayse, for glory,
To try to desire, to try love severed farr,
When I was gonn she sent her memory
More strange than were ten thousand shipps of war
To call mee back, to leve great honor thought,
To leve my friends, my fortune, my attempte
To leve the purpose I so longe had sought
And hold bothe cares, and comforts in contempt.

To Hill literature gives a key to understanding statecraft. By covering historical literature he is also giving readers a keen understanding of the world and its development. Such literature provides the backdrop to why we think the way we do and the reasons we exist in the world in which we do. It is a deep and insightful book that is written at a graduate level. For those who need resources there are plenty available.

Hill, C. (2010). Grand Strategies: Literature, Statecraft, and World Order. London: Yale University Press. 

ISBN: 978-0-300-17133-4
Pages:  368
Price: $15
Blog Ranking: 4.3

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