E.H. Carr: The Realist's Realist

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Issue: Fall 1991

E.H. Carr, The Twenty Years' Crisis (current printing, New York: Harper & Row, 1981 [original printing, London: Macmillan and Company Limited, and New York: St. Martin's Press, 1939]).  240 pp., $7.95.

E.H. Carr's The Twenty Years' Crisis 1919-1939 is not, as the title suggests, a history of international affairs between the two world wars.  It is more accurately described by the subtitle, An Introduction to the Study of International Relations.  Carr wanted to explain how sovereign states behaved toward one another (especially in Europe, since the world in 1939, when the book appeared, was highly Eurocentric) and to encourage thinking that would be realistic and not utopian.  It is this dichotomy between realism and utopianism that has given the book its reputation and Carr his place among theorists of international relations.

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