Book review:

Peter N. Stearns (ed.) “Demilitarization in the Contemporary World”


Sia Spiliopoulou Åkermark

Book reviews are often written when a book has very recently appeared. While it is now nearly four years since this edited volume appeared, the review argues that the book deserves continued attention and discussion and that it can function as a source of inspiration for many years to come. There are many reasons for this assertion. Firstly, as argued by the editor of the book, ‘[d]emilitarization merits both renewed attention and wide assessment as a significant, if still somewhat unexpected, facet of contemporary world history’ (p. 250). Secondly, the book indeed makes such a ‘wide assessment’, as it gathers several important contributions which address issues of demilitarization from the historical, sociological, international relations and political perspectives. Thirdly, the volume makes an important theoretical and conceptual choice in looking primarily at state-wide regimes of demilitarization, with a clear focus on Germany and Japan after the Second World War, in addition to several thought-provoking contributions on Central and Latin America. Finally, several of the contributions offer unique insights into the history and past and present-day politics of countries holding varying positions of importance in the contemporary world.

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