PEACE by ProQuest


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A History of Movements and Ideas
David Cortright
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008. $29.99 paper (ISBN 978-0-

What exactly is peace? Is it more than the absence of war and yet not
necessarily the absence of conflict? And what about all those people who
campaigned for peace down through the years only to have been dismissed
as misguided, unpatriotic idealists? Have they not been judged too harshly?
These are just some of the questions that peace scholar and activist David
Cortright analyzes in his latest book Peace: A History of Movements and
Ideas. From the first few pages it is clear that he sees peace as a proactive
phenomenon, a “dynamic process” of resolving disputes without violent
conflict and transforming the conditions that cause war (8). As for pacifists,
he believes they have been treated unfairly, so he attempts “to set the record
straight” and give them and the cause of peace their “day in court” by
reexamining the historical evidence (1).
     Cortright divides the book into two parts. The first is a historical survey
of peace movements, including those for internationalism and disarmament,
beginning with the early peace societies of the 19th century and continuing
up to the current war on terror. While this is familiar territory, Cortright gives
it a fresh perspective in the same way that feminist scholars have revised
history by reinterpreting standard sources. The core of his argument is that
peace advocates, including some doctrinaire pacifists, far from being
irrelevant dreamers, have been pragmatists. They have often offered realistic
assessments of conflicts and their causes and have even called for resistance
to aggression, most notably during the 1930s when leading figures, including
Albert Einstein, Mohandas Gandhi, Bart de Ligt, and Vera Brittain not only
condemned fascis
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