HKS Library Virtual Book Tour

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Editors:

Richard N. Rosecrance
Adjunct Professor of Public Policy
Harvard Kennedy School
International Security Program; Director, Project on U.S.-China Relations
Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

&

Steven E. Miller
Harvard Kennedy School
Director, International Security Program,
Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

About the Book

A century ago, Europe's diplomats mismanaged the crisis triggered by the murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, and the continent soon plunged into World War I, which killed millions, toppled dynasties, and destroyed empires. Almost as soon as the armies began to march, scholars started trying to explain what caused the Great War. One hundred years later, the continuing debate over the causes of World War I has been joined by lively consideration of the parallels between the present international system and the world of 1914.

Are China and the United States fated to follow in the footsteps of previous great power rivals? Will today's alliances drag countries into tomorrow's wars? Can leaders manage power relationships peacefully? Or will East Asia's territorial and maritime disputes trigger a larger conflict, just as rivalries in the Balkans did in 1914?

The Next Great War? combines reinterpretations of history, applications of international relations theory, and discussions of the lessons that the outbreak of war in 1914 offers for the analysis of contemporary U.S.-China relations. In these essays, leading experts reconsider the causes of World War I and explore whether the great powers of the twenty-first century can avoid the mistakes of Europe's statesmen in 1914 and prevent another catastrophic conflict. They find differences as well as similarities between today's world and the world of 1914—but conclude that only a deep understanding of those differences and early action to bring great powers together will likely enable the United States and China to avoid a great war.

Contributors: Alan Alexandroff, Graham Allison, Richard N. Cooper, Charles S. Maier, Steven E. Miller, Joseph S. Nye Jr., T.G. Otte, David K. Richards, Richard N. Rosecrance, Kevin Rudd, Jack Snyder, Etel Solingen, Arthur A. Stein, Stephen Van Evera

Reviews

“The origins of the First World War have eerie parallels to the present. Will war again be an inevitable outcome of the changing balance of power and entangling alliances? In this timely book, top international relations experts ask whether nations today can better control their destinies as China rises and challenges the global order and the world lurches toward new conflicts.”
— Francis Fukuyama, Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University

“None of the leaders who drifted into war in August 1914 would have done so could they have foreseen the world of 1918. In this thought-provoking volume, distinguished observers and participants in international affairs assess the origins of that catastrophe and its important lessons for the future.”
— Henry A. Kissinger

“What can World War I, a devastating conflict that no state wanted to happen, teach us about how to prevent a twenty-first century war in Asia? In this book, an all-star team of historians and international relations scholars review the origins of World War I and highlight important lessons for the U.S. and China, including watch out for allies and build cross-cutting alliances and regional concerts. Should be required reading in Washington and Beijing.”
— Susan L. Shirk, Ho Miu Lam Professor of China and Pacific Relations, University of California, San Diego

“This is an unusually rich and insightful collection that offers a convincing as well as a thought-provoking discussion of why war broke out in 1914 and lessons that might be drawn for the future of U.S-China relations. It suggests that much more will depend on the sagacity of our future leaders than on any recurring patterns of the past.”
— Zara Steiner, Emeritus Fellow, Murray-Edwards College, University of Cambridge

“The essays that Richard Rosecrance and Steven Miller have assembled in this volume are judicious and nuanced, brimming with insights for theorists, historians, and policymakers alike.”
— Ali Wyne, Global Asia

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The Next Great War? The Roots of World War I and the Risk of U.S.-China Conflict

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