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

Guardians Pedersen 400x600

2017 Honorable Mention

by Susan Pedersen
Publisher: Oxford University Press (2015)

Jury Statement

In this beautifully crafted book, Susan Pedersen presents the reader with an intriguing story of an internationalist path-not-taken. Though far from romanticizing the League of Nations, Pedersen has written a sympathetic history of a time of lost opportunities that spans the globe. In essence, the mandates system, which the book explores in fascinating detail, represented a moment of imperial planning and aspirations of high order, an attempt by the League of Nations to realize the reforming potential of empires on a global scale. Of course, the “guardians” failed. This is imperial history and global history of a high order. Most interestingly, Pedersen tells what would seem at first glance a tale of inevitability as one hinging on contingency. An internationalist vision among the mandates system did not emerge by design; rather, as she suggests, vying interests and imperial interests under the internationalist umbrella of the system made for willy-nilly internationalization, even if extraordinary pressures pushed against its success. The Guardians is a compelling read, an expansive and rigorously done piece of work.

About the Author

Susan Pedersen is Gouverneur Morris Professor of History at Columbia University.

2017 Jury

George W. Breslauer
Faculty Director of the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, Emeritus
University of California, Berkeley

E. Mark Cummings
Professor and Notre Dame Chair in Psychology
University of Notre Dame

Geoff Eley
Karl Pohrt Distinguished University Professor of Contemporary History
University of Michigan

Patrick Griffin
Madden-Hennebry Professor of History
University of Notre Dame

Adele Lindenmeyr
Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Professor of History
Villanova University

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