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Foreign Affairs


  • Originally published 08/13/2013

    Paul Kennedy: The Great Powers, Then and Now

    Paul Kennedy is Dilworth Professor of History and director of International Security Studies at Yale University. His books include “The Rise and Fall of The Great Powers,” and, most recently, “Engineers of Victory.”So President Obama won’t have a one-on-one conference with his Russian equivalent, Vladimir Putin, at the time of the G-20 meeting in Moscow, partly because of a nondescript “leaker,” Edward Snowden — that is not good. So Chinese public opinion (however that is cooked up) seems to be ever more nationalistic these days, while Japan launches its first aircraft carrier since the Pacific War — surely also not good.So America’s National Security Agency looks as if it is spying on everyone, domestic and foreign, producing bouts of outrage — that is a bad business. So the European Union is as divided, confused, angry and leaderless as, say, the former Holy Roman Empire — this is surely not good. There’s more: Argentina is huffing and puffing about the Falklands, and Spain is huffing and puffing about Gibraltar. Not good at all.

  • Originally published 01/15/2013

    Charles Walton: The Missing Half of Les Mis

    Charles Walton is Associate Professor of History at Yale University.Before there were blockbuster films, there were blockbuster books. Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, published in 1862, was one of them. Thanks to a market-savvy publisher, this monument of French romanticism, which was serialized in ten installments, became an immediate bestseller across Europe and North America. Demand was so great that other authors, notably Gustave Flaubert, postponed the publications of their own books to avoid being outshined. On days when new installments went on sale in Paris, police were called in to stop impatient crowds from storming the bookstores. Some high-minded critics, not unlike those who spurn sensational Hollywood films today, found the hype distasteful. Edwin Percy Whipple, in a review for The Atlantic, referred to “the system of puffing” surrounding the book’s release in terms worthy of Ebenezer Scrooge: it was “the grossest bookselling humbug,” a spectacle “at which Barnum himself would stare amazed.”