Book Review: Andrew Linklater, Violence and Civilization in the Western States-Systems

Published date01 April 2019
AuthorAbhishek Choudhary
Date01 April 2019
Subject MatterBook Reviews
Book Reviews 211
through the Silk Road paradigm. The book gives a multifaceted account of the
present, keeping in view all the scenarios—political, economic and security rea-
sons. It is commendable to read a new take on world’s present and future. The
road, which seemed to have passed into nostalgia has become the buzzword in
the world, especially the media and the academia. In fact, author sums it up in
an appropriate way, ‘… Silk Roads are rising. They will continue to do so. How
they develop, evolve and change will shape the world of the future for good and
for bad’ (p. 253).
The sources speak well to the author’s central argument—a new history of the
world through Silk Roads. It has been a long contested topic, as to what is the task
of a historian, whether he should take a neutral and objective stand or moral
judgement is inextricable part of writing. A. J. P. Taylor said once, the task of
historian is to present the picture the way it is, not to pass value judgement. He
said, ‘I do not believe that a historian should either excuse/condemn. His duty is
to explain’ (1961).
Oxford historian Frankopan clearly achieves that objective of writing. His
writing is balanced, it emphasizes that states are logical, rational actors in world
politics, their policies governed by what would suit their country the best. Whether
it is good or bad, the rationale for launching BRI and other states’ response and
how these countries will rise above their differences, both internal and external,
has been left to the time. Silk Roads have been decisive in the past, they will be
equally decisive in the future, only the quantum and nature will be revealed in the
future times.
Taylor, A. J. P. (1961). The Origins of The Second World War (p. 3). London: Hamish
Ritika Joshi
Centre for Inner Asian Studies
School of International Studies
Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
Andrew Linklater, Violence and Civilization in the Western States-Systems.
Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2017, 576 pp., US$96.00
(Hardback), US$29.99 (Paperback).
DOI: 10.1177/0020881719849249
There has been a renewed scholarly engagement with the idea of violence. A gen-
eral tendency has been to acknowledge a reduction in the propensity for violence
(Pinker, 2011). The book under review engages with the changes in the agreed
standards of self-restraint that have impacted the development of Western states-
systems and have seen a reduction in violence. Linklater presents an exhaustive
analysis of the historical developments using historical sociology as an approach

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