This section includes book notes of 150-300 words as well as some book reviews of 600-900 words on books of particular interest to the members of our group. If you have either suggestions for books you would like to review or see reviewed (including recent books of your own), please contact Cas Mudde. Book Notes Erik Bleich, Race Politics in Britain and France: Ideas and Policymaking since the 1960s. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003, 246 pp., GBP 16.95/USD 23.00, ISBN 0-521-00953-7 (pbk) / GBP 45.00/USD 65.00, ISBN 0-521-81101-5 (hbk). Reviewed by Jens Rydgren (University of Stockholm)
According to Randall Hansen, this book “distinguished itself as the finest book on race in France and the United Kingdom.” Without being as well read within this area as Hansen, I have to agree. This is the kind of book you wish you had read long ago; it would have saved you a lot of trouble of finding this out on your own. Bleich, succeeds in this book to present two very good case histories of race politics in two of the most important and interesting countries in Europe: France and the UK. This would be a merit in itself, but emerging qualities also result from putting them against one another, and by posing the question of why these two countries’ paths have diverged so much during the last 40 years? By answering this question Bleich points at the role of ideas in general, and framing activities in particular. Although this is far from the whole story (I would personally have given interests a somewhat greater role), it is a fresh and largely fruitful approach. Thus, I think this book should be read not only by those interested in race politics or the politics of both France andBritain, but also by everyone interested in the general role of ideas in politics.
John D. Brewer, C. Wright Mills and the Ending of Violence, New York: Palgrave, 2003, 197 pp., USD 65.00, ISBN 0-333-80180-6 (hbk). Reviewed by John E. Finn (Wesleyan University)
Brewer’s provocative little book begins with a straightforward and interesting claim: We can use Charles Wright Mill’s concept of the “sociological imagination” to explain peace processes in Northern Ireland and South Africa. For readers unfamiliar with the concept, the basic premise of the “sociological imagination” is that sociology, as an academic discipline, must be able to map the connections between the individual, history, social-structural processes, and the political. As a consequence, the book is not, and does not aspire to be, an exhaustive historical account or political analysis of those peace processes.