The Project-State and Its Rivals: A New History of the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries (Hardback)
  • The Project-State and Its Rivals: A New History of the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries (Hardback)
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The Project-State and Its Rivals: A New History of the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries (Hardback)

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£37.95
Hardback 528 Pages
Published: 16/05/2023
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A new and original history of the forces that shaped the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

We thought we knew the story of the twentieth century. For many in the West, after the two world conflicts and the long cold war, the verdict was clear: democratic values had prevailed over dictatorship. But if the twentieth century meant the triumph of liberalism, as many intellectuals proclaimed, why have the era’s darker impulses—ethnic nationalism, racist violence, and populist authoritarianism—revived?

The Project-State and Its Rivals offers a radical alternative interpretation that takes us from the transforming challenges of the world wars to our own time. Instead of the traditional narrative of domestic politics and international relations, Charles S. Maier looks to the political and economic impulses that propelled societies through a century when territorial states and transnational forces both claimed power, engaging sometimes as rivals and sometimes as allies. Maier focuses on recurring institutional constellations: project-states including both democracies and dictatorships that sought not just to retain power but to transform their societies; new forms of imperial domination; global networks of finance; and the international associations, foundations, and NGOs that tried to shape public life through allegedly apolitical appeals to science and ethics.

In this account, which draws on the author’s studies over half a century, Maier invites a rethinking of the long twentieth century. His history of state entanglements with capital, the decline of public projects, and the fragility of governance explains the fraying of our own civic culture—but also allows hope for its recovery.

Publisher: Harvard University Press
ISBN: 9780674290143
Number of pages: 528
Dimensions: 235 x 156 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

Maier offers an alternative account of the last century, looking at how a wide range of actors tried to harness industrial modernity in the pursuit of power and material interests…[He] weaves a narrative about the explosive interplay of economic privilege and political grievance. - G. John Ikenberry, Foreign Affairs

Ambitious…It is Maier’s open worry about the fragility of our democratic order and about the considerable strength of the antidemocratic impulses in this third decade of the 21st century that makes The Project-State and Its Rivals a book that will last. - Paul Kennedy, Wall Street Journal

Extraordinarily erudite and brimming with insight…[Maier] leaves open the question of whether the project-state will escape the dustbin of history and be revivified and redeployed, democratically, for the common good. - Jonathan Ira Levy, Project Syndicate

Through his decades of scholarship and teaching on both sides of the Atlantic, Charles S. Maier has focused on one basic question, formulating and refining his answers with each successive book and monograph. His goal has been to understand and explain the ways in which advanced capitalist states evolved over the past century in response to world war, colonial war, cold war and economic globalisation. This…fascinating book provides a summation and updating of Maier’s lifelong work. - David C. Unger, Survival

A very refreshing take on a history I thought I knew well. - J. Bradford Delong, Harvard Magazine

[The] story of the exhaustion of the postwar political-economic order has now been told many times; what sets Maier’s account apart is the way he weaves together the work of capitalist activists and their allies in politics and think tanks with the work of governance activists in the same years. His wide-angle lens shows how the political and economic turbulence of that period led not only to the Volcker shock but to the rising prominence of NGOs and foundations seeking to restore order and stability at home and abroad. - Jonathan S. Blake, Boston Review

An intriguing, sophisticated book about the relationships between the evolution of the modern nation-state and the concurrent forces of capitalism, popular politics, socialist responses, and bureaucratic governance. This is a deep and clever work, the culmination of an erudite historian's long grappling with humankind's mixed record of progress and failure. - Paul Kennedy, author of The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers

Charles Maier has produced a brilliantly innovative reconceptualization of twentieth-century history in terms of the interaction between states, resources, and markets. He sets a bold agenda for future thinking about the shape of the past one hundred years. - Harold James, author of The War of Words: A Glossary of Globalization

A true history of the present. The Project-State and Its Rivals is a powerful, insightful, and penetrating analysis of the major shifts in global order and social dynamics across the past century. There are few historians today who can venture to undertake such a tour d'horizon with equal confidence and expertise as Maier. - Sebastian Conrad, author of What Is Global History?

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