League of Nations 1919

Gary B. Ostrower, Author, George L. Lankevich, Editor
Gary B. Ostrower, Author, George L. Lankevich, Editor Avery Publishing Group $25 (0p) ISBN 978-0-89529-636-8
Reviewed on: 04/01/1996
Release date: 01/01/1995
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In his political history, Ostrower explains with clarity and authority how horror over WW I's 20 million dead led to the formation of the League of Nations in 1919. It was an institution dedicated to a peaceful and orderly world community and was ultimately based on Enlightenment ideas of natural reason and the inevitability of human progress. Ostrower shows how each of these assumptions was called into question as the League faced a series of world crises. He also points out the inherent paradox of Article 16, which called for ""sanctions""--i.e., force--against aggressor states. Because of such problems, plus the organization's inability to prevent WW II, most historians judge the League a failure. But Ostrower describes some notable, nonpolitical successes: slavery was reduced, the narcotics trade restrained, the world's cultural heritage protected and health programs fostered. Ostrower displays balanced judgment throughout a narrative that is both persuasive and well-documented (further helped by a 40-page chronology). And he leaves readers sympathetic to a question fundamental to the founding of the League and one that persists today: Should international cooperation take precedence over national sovereignty? (Mar.)
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