In This Review

The Standard of 'Civilization' in International Society
The Standard of 'Civilization' in International Society
By Gerrit W. Gong
267 pp, Oxford/Clarendon Press, 1984

Those who wonder why today's world has such difficulty setting common norms of international behavior and rules of international law would do well to read this study of the 19th-century family of nations and the essentially European "standards of civilization" to which non-European nations, if they wished to join the family, were expected to conform. It describes how Turkey, China, Japan and Siam made the necessary adjustments while retaining their cultural individuality and their own concepts of international relations. Can there be universal standards of law and civilization in a world of cultural pluralism? Khomeini's Iran, among others, poses this question. This book is a fine example of the uses of history to define and illuminate a subject of great import.