Forbidden Fruit: Counterfactuals and International Relations

Princeton University Press
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Could World War I have been averted if Franz Ferdinand and his wife hadn't been murdered by Serbian nationalists in 1914? What if Ronald Reagan had been killed by Hinckley's bullet? Would the Cold War have ended as it did? In Forbidden Fruit, Richard Ned Lebow develops protocols for conducting robust counterfactual thought experiments and uses them to probe the causes and contingency of transformative international developments like World War I and the end of the Cold War. He uses experiments, surveys, and a short story to explore why policymakers, historians, and international relations scholars are so resistant to the contingency and indeterminism inherent in open-ended, nonlinear systems. Most controversially, Lebow argues that the difference between counterfactual and so-called factual arguments is misleading, as both can be evidence-rich and logically persuasive. A must-read for social scientists, Forbidden Fruit also examines the binary between fact and fiction and the use of counterfactuals in fictional works like Philip Roth's The Plot Against America to understand complex causation and its implications for who we are and what we think makes the social world work.
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About the author

Richard Ned Lebow is the James O. Freedman Presidential Professor of Government at Dartmouth College and the Centennial Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science. His many books include A Cultural Theory of International Relations and We All Lost the Cold War (Princeton).
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Jan 18, 2010
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Pages
352
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ISBN
9781400835126
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / History & Theory
Political Science / International Relations / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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For sixty years, different groups in Europe have put forth interpretations of World War II and their respective countries’ roles in it consistent with their own political and psychological needs. The conflict over the past has played out in diverse arenas, including film, memoirs, court cases, and textbooks. It has had profound implications for democratization and relations between neighboring countries. This collection provides a comparative case study of how memories of World War II have been constructed and revised in seven European nations: France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Italy, and the USSR (Russia). The contributors include scholars of history, literature, political science, psychology, and sociology. Country by country, they bring to the fore the specifics of each nation’s postwar memories in essays commissioned especially for this volume. The use of similar analytical categories facilitates comparisons.

An extensive introduction contains reflections on the significance of Europeans’ memories of World War II and a conclusion provides an analysis of the implications of the contributors’ findings for memory studies. These two pieces tease out some of the findings common to all seven countries: for instance, in each nation, the decade and a half between the late 1960s and the mid-1980s was the period of most profound change in the politics of memory. At the same time, the contributors demonstrate that Europeans understand World War II primarily through national frames of reference, which are surprisingly varied. Memories of the war have important ramifications for the democratization of Central and Eastern Europe and the consolidation of the European Union. This volume clarifies how those memories are formed and institutionalized.

Contributors. Claudio Fogu, Richard J. Golsan, Wulf Kansteiner, Richard Ned Lebow, Regula Ludi, Annamaria Orla-Bukowska, Heidemarie Uhl, Thomas C. Wolfe

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