Nils Petter Gleditsch
Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)
This impressive book series covers the cultural history of peace under eight headings (Definitions of peace; Human nature, peace and war; Peace, war and gender; Peace, pacifism and religion; Representations of peace; Peace movements; Peace, security and deterrence; Peace as integration) for each of six historical periods. This structure, imposed by the general guidelines of the Bloomsbury Cultural History Series (which covers a multitude of topics from Ideas and Plants to Furniture and Hair), might be thought of as a straitjacket, but results in a remarkably disciplined survey. A few authors seem to get away with smuggling their favorite topic into the assignment, but overall, the 56 contributors from thirteen different countries adapt remarkably well to the strict editorial format. The style of writing is encyclopedic rather than advocacy. The books cover wide as well as narrow conceptions of peace, realist as well as idealistic approaches. The general editor is a historian who has coordinated Dartmouth's interdisciplinary War and Peace Studies Program. His editorial work is a major achievement.