The Quest for Stability: Problems of West European Security, 1918-1957

In This Review

The Quest for Stability: Problems of West European Security, 1918-1957

Edited by R. Ahmann, A. M. Birke and M. Howard
Oxford University Press/London: The German Historical Institute, 1993
546 pp. $79.00

A superior symposium, brilliantly introduced by Michael Howard, whose understanding that just as domestic and foreign policies cannot be separated, so military and economic facts are inseparable in any assessment of security, informs most of these essays. Some deal with national perceptions of security, others with the impact of new military technology and the evolution of economic factors; some offer new perspectives based on recently available archival sources. A remarkable work, with occasional contradictions among individual authors and by no means a complete history of the period or the subject. Authors come from eight countries, and include, inter alia, Zara Steiner, Manfred Messerschmidt and Charles Maier. Ernest May contributes a superb analysis of how the ill-informed faith in America's deterrent power through nuclear weapons enabled the West to mount a NATO commitment that democratic countries would not have sanctioned if conventional weapons had been the principal weapons. As he puts it, "We see the men of 1945-47 (and, happily, of 1945 to the present) stumbling into peace."

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