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Oxford University Press
19 July 2017
History; Colonialism & imperialism; National liberation & independence, post-colonialism; International institutions
An entirely new account of the transformation of the imperial order after World War I, recovering the crucial role of the League of Nations in setting up international governance of colonial territories seized from the defeated powers, and showing how the actions of the League shaped the modern world of nation states.
By:   Susan Pedersen (Professor and James P. Shenton Professor of the Core Curriculum Professor and James P. Shenton Professor of the Core Curriculum Columbia University)
Imprint:   Oxford University Press
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 171mm,  Spine: 33mm
Weight:   902g
ISBN:   9780198743491
ISBN 10:   0198743491
Pages:   592
Publication Date:   19 July 2017
Audience:   College/higher education ,  A / AS level ,  Further / Higher Education
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Susan Pedersen was born to Canadian missionary parents and spent her childhood in Japan and Minnesota. Rescued by Harvard at the age of 18, she spent the next 26 years there as a student, faculty member, and sometime Dean for Undergraduate Education. A historian of Britain and Europe with wide interests and an a penchant for far-flung research, she has written on subjects ranging from the history of women's movements, to the origins of welfare states, to British rule in Kenya, Hong Kong, and Palestine. Since 2003, she has been on the faculty at Columbia University, where she teaches courses on British and international history, and on 'great books' from Plato to Nietzsche. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and two children.

Reviews for The Guardians: The League of Nations and the Crisis of Empire

`[An] original, stimulating and thoroughly researched examination of how the new League managed to sustain a facade of trusteeship in a world of selfish imperial interests... This is a fascinating examination of empire in its final death throes.' Literary Review, Richard Overy `A richly detailed study of the League's Permanent Mandates Commission... Pedersen's book is genuinely revelatory a long disquisition on the politics of unintended consequences, as a bureaucratic system designed to uphold and legitimise imperial reconstruction provided the tools for its undoing.' Financial Times, Duncan Kelly `The first indispensable book written on a critical subject in 50 years... fair-minded, hard-hitting and readable... The Guardians is a magnificent book.' Wall Street Journal (Europe), WM. Roger Louis `A strikingly original book.' Mark Mazower, The Guardian `The Guardians offers many important insights, not least in demonstrating how internationalism deepened when Germany became a commission member and how the UK's governance of Iraq inspired today's system of economic imperialism. The book's primary revelation, however, relates to what the league did not do. Pedersen argues that self-determination, the concept that supposedly underpinned its creation, was not what the Commission would serve . Its failure to take seriously the demands of its mandated populations initiated a set of forces that would help to forge our unequal world of today. Pedersen's study is nothing less than a groundbreaking account of how one organisation shaped the 20th century.' Times Higher Education, Niamh Gallagher `A magnificent study.' Ferdinand Mount, London Review of Books `provides an enlightening, insightful, richly textured expose of the Mandates Commission from birth to transformation under the United Nations. Her multi-archival, international, superbly footnoted, and, at its core, personality driven narrative brings alive an institution ... the author's highly engaging narrative style makes the book fly by as if it were a summer beach read. Extremely readable, richly informative, and boldly argued.' G. Donato, CHOICE


  • Winner of Winner of the 2015 Cundill Prize in Historical Literature.

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