In This Review

Global Interdependence: The World after 1945
Global Interdependence: The World after 1945
Edited by Akira Iriye
Belknap Press, 2014, 1008 pp.

Most world histories of the post-1945 era place the Cold War and the rise of American power at the center of the story. In this impressive new work, Iriye and his collaborators focus on the deeper trends that have unsettled and reshaped the contemporary world system. In sweeping narratives, the contributors highlight the profound ways in which transnational forces -- trade, investment, immigration, communication, and so on -- have linked disparate political spaces and transformed human consciousness. Of course, globalization existed before 1945, beginning to take hold as early as the 1870s. But Iriye observes that prior to the contemporary period, globalization was driven by Western powers, pushed forward by colonizers, capitalists, self-appointed civilizers, and great-power rivalry. In more recent times, Iriye sees the process as driven more by non-Western peoples seeking to make their own history, which has in turn lent contemporary world politics a sense of international community and a common human destiny. Nationalism, protectionism, xenophobia, and great-power rivalry have not completely disappeared, of course. But in Iriye’s inspiring historical vision, transnationalism has helped usher in a more stable and peaceful world.