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The Wilsonian Moment: Self-Determination and the International Origins of Anticolonial Nationalism (Oxford Studies in International History) Paperback – January 9, 2009

6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195378535 ISBN-10: 0195378539 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

At the close of WWI, America seemed the foe of Western imperialism, according to this probing historical study. Woodrow Wilson's 14 Points peace framework and his rhetoric of self-determination and equality of nations appeared to expectant Africans and Asians like a formula for their liberation from European colonial rule. One Indian leader hailed Wilson as another Christ or Buddha, and a Chinese academic called him the number one good man in the world. Wilson was bombarded by petitions from colonial nationalist leaders (including Ho Chi Minh). who hoped he would champion their cause at the Paris Peace Conference. But the other Allies proved unsympathetic to self-determination in their colonial domains and Wilson backed off, provoking disillusioned nationalists from Egypt to Korea to stage uprisings and turn to Soviet communism for inspiration. Manela, an assistant professor of history at Harvard, offers a well-researched, if somewhat dry, survey of anticolonial politics during this fraught period. Wilsonian principles, he contends, laid the conceptual groundwork for the 20th century's nationalist revolutions; yet Wilson's betrayal ensured that anti-imperialism would shift from a liberal internationalist ideology to a radical, anti-Western one. The author presents an enlightening analysis of a shortsighted failure whose convulsive effects are still with us. 20 photos. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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"Manela's book is that rare thing in good history writing: it is concise and well-argued, the kind of book that you finish knowing not only what you just read but its obvious importance to the world around you. It is also that very rare thing in U.S. diplomatic history, for the book not only covers what Wilson thought and said but also how people around the world interpreted his thoughts and actions. As much as this account is solid diplomatic history, it is equally a major contribution to a still largely inchoate field known as "America and the world'.... The Wilsonian Moment breaks important new ground. It is an excellent piece of history."--Ussama Makdisi, Diplomatic History


"Trawling through four national archives, Manela has produced an immensely rich and important work of comparative politics."--Pankaj Mishra, London Review of Books


"This book will undoubtedly be definitive.... Manela conclusively shows that Wilson, who had little interest in liberating colonial peoples, inadvertently planted among colonial peoples the seeds of national self-determination and disillusionment with a West that saw this concept applying to white peoples only. Essential."--CHOICE


"This is the new 'international history' at its best."--John Milton Cooper, author of Breaking the Heart of the World: Woodrow Wilson and the Fight for the League of Nations


"A probing historical study. Manela presents an enlightening analysis of a shortsighted failure whose convulsive effects are still with us."--Publishers Weekly


"Sophisticated in its analysis."--The Weekly Standard


"A carefully researched and gracefully written example of the new transnational history at its best."--Jeffrey Wasserstrom, History News Network


"Indispensable to all scholars seeking to understand the political transformation of the colonial world in the aftermath of World War I."--Wm. Roger Louis, University of Texas at Austin


"Innovative and elegantly written...Manela makes a convincing case that the disappointment resulting from the 'Wilsonian moment' shaped the future of anticolonial nationalism." --The Historian


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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford Studies in International History
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (January 9, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195378539
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195378535
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 1 x 6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #221,908 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By DannyCK on September 18, 2013
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The is groundbreaking work in global history. Manela is able to tell one story, the story of self-determination in the colonial world, from the American, European, Chinese, Indian, Egyptian, and Korean perspectives without deluding the narrative. This is my first review and I was inspired to do so based on the misguided perceptions of the first reviewer. For a history book it's well written, well researched, and will evoke feelings of frustration and admiration for those who were let down by Wilson.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Zachary W. Schulz on March 6, 2014
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Erez Manela’s The Wilsonian Moment argues that nationalistic movements of Egypt, India, China, and Korea, seized upon the rhetoric of President Woodrow Wilson to legitimize their claims to self-determination. Though Wilson only intended his rhetoric to apply to European powers, colonized societies adopted the language to internationalize their anti-colonial claims and rally public support. Widespread violent uprisings occurred in the aforementioned colonies after the Paris Peace Conference failed to address the concerns brought forth by anti-colonial nationalists. Despite the failure of the uprisings, the ideals expounded by Wilson formed the backbone of future nationalistic efforts toward independence.

President Wilson delivered a series of speeches beginning with the April 1917 declaration of war against Germany and continuing through his 1919 attendance at the Paris Peace Conference. In his addresses he declared, “that every people has a right to choose the sovereignty under which they shall live” and that, “no peace can last, or ought to last, which does not recognize and accept the principle that governments derive all their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Nationalistic movements in the colonized world were galvanized by this new language of self-determination. In their view, the imperial system contributed to the genesis of the world war and that the bloody aftermath undermined European claims of superiority. Therefore, American exceptionalism, embodied in Wilson’s democratic rhetoric, was widely published and repeated by transnational groups. The vernacular of self-determination became the common language when expressing the core beliefs and desires of anti-colonial nationalists amongst themselves and audiences worldwide. (p.
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I believe this book has a strong grasp on the global understanding of the effects of Wilson's fourteen points and views on self-determination which inspired movements towards democratic rule in various countries or how they adapted those understanding. This is one of the few books I feel that are written in a primarily non-western perspective which highlight the trials and tribulations of eastern countries and their relationship with the United States.
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