Excerpt from Dangerous Games by Margaret MacMillan, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Dangerous Games

The Uses and Abuses of History

by Margaret MacMillan

Dangerous Games
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jul 2009, 208 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2010, 208 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Derek Brown

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


In fact, many of the old conflicts and tensions remained, frozen into place just under the surface of the Cold War. The end of that great struggle brought a thaw, and long-suppressed dreams and hatreds bubbled to the surface again. Saddam Hussein’s Iraq invaded Kuwait, basing its claims on dubious history. We discovered that it mattered that Serbs and Croats had many historical reasons to fear and hate each other, and that there were peoples within the Soviet Union who had their own proud histories and who wanted their independence. Many of us had to learn who the Serbs and Croats were and where Armenia or Georgia lay on the map. In the words of the title of Misha Glenny’s book on central Europe, we witnessed the rebirth of history. Of course, as so often happens, some people went too far the other way and blamed everything that was going wrong in the Balkans in the 1990s, to take one of the most egregious cases, on “age-old hatreds,” which conveniently overlooked the wickedness of Slobodan Milosevic, then the president, and his ilk, who were doing their best to destroy Yugoslavia and dismember Bosnia. Such an attitude allowed outside powers to stand by wringing their hands helplessly for far too long.

The last two decades have been troubled and bewildering ones, and, not surprisingly, many people have turned to history to try to understand what is going on. Books on the history of the Balkans sold well as Yugoslavia fell to pieces. Today, publishers are rushing to commission histories of Iraq or to reissue older works. T. E. Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom, which describes the Arab struggle against Turkey for independence, is a bestseller again, and particularly popular with American soldiers serving in Iraq. My own book on the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, where so much of the foundation of the modern world was laid, could not find a publisher in the 1980s. As one publisher said, no one wanted to read about a bunch of dead white men sitting around talking about long-forgotten peace settlements. By the 1990s, the subject had come to seem a lot more relevant.

Today’s world is far removed from the stasis of the Cold War. It looks more like that of the decade before 1914 and the outbreak of World War I or the world of the 1920s. In those days, as the British Empire started to weaken and other powers, from Germany to Japan to the United States, challenged it for hegemony, the international system became unstable. Today, the United States still towers over the other powers but not as much as it once did. It has been badly damaged by its involvement in Iraq, and it faces challenges from the rising Asian powers of China and India and its old rival Russia. Economic troubles bring, as they brought in the past, domestic pressures for protection and trade barriers. Ideologies - then Fascism and Communism, now religious fundamentalisms - challenge the assumptions of liberal internationalism and wage war on powers they see standing in their way. And the world still has, as it had in the first half of the twentieth century, the unreasoning forces of ethnic nationalism.

Excerpted from Dangerous Games by Margaret MacMillan Copyright © 2009 by Margaret MacMillan. Excerpted by permission of Modern Library, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free Membership

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Here I Am
    Here I Am
    by Jonathan Safran Foer
    With almost all the accoutrements of upper middle-class suburban life, Julia and Jacob Bloch fit the...
  • Book Jacket: Harmony
    Harmony
    by Carolyn Parkhurst
    In previous novels such as The Dogs of Babel and Lost and Found, Carolyn Parkhurst has shown herself...
  • Book Jacket: Commonwealth
    Commonwealth
    by Ann Patchett
    Opening Ann Patchett's novel Commonwealth about two semi-functional mid-late 20th Century ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Tea Planter's Wife
    by Dinah Jefferies

    An utterly engrossing, compulsive page-turner set in 1920s Ceylon.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Darling Days
    by iO Tillett Wright

    A devastatingly powerful memoir of one young woman's extraordinary coming of age.

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Circling the Sun
by Paula McLain

An intoxicatingly vivid portrait of colonial Kenya and its privileged inhabitants.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Blood at the Root

Blood at the Root

"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

D C Y C Before T A H

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.