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Waves of War
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Book description

Why did the nation-state emerge and proliferate across the globe? How is this process related to the wars fought in the modern era? Analyzing datasets that cover the entire world over long stretches of time, Andreas Wimmer focuses on changing configurations of power and legitimacy to answer these questions. The nationalist ideal of self-rule gradually diffused over the world and delegitimized empire after empire. Nationalists created nation-states wherever the power configuration favored them, often at the end of prolonged wars of secession. The elites of many of these new states were institutionally too weak for nation-building and favored their own ethnic communities. Ethnic rebels challenged such exclusionary power structures in violation of the principles of self-rule, and neighboring governments sometimes intervened into these struggles over the state. Waves of War demonstrates why nation-state formation and ethnic politics are crucial to understand the civil and international wars of the past 200 years.


‘For all their usefulness, quantitative studies of conflict often suffer from theoretical shallowness and historical myopia. Andreas Wimmer complements his quantitative study of global conflict with a deep theoretical understanding of nationalism and ethnicity. He then embeds it into a powerful historical account of the rise and spread of the nation-state during the past two centuries. Waves of War is a critical and timely contribution to the study of conflict that sets a new standard.’

Stathis N. Kalyvas - Yale University

‘Combining the broad landscapes of comparative macro sociology (in the tradition of Stein Rokkan) with data-filled attention to the micro processes of nation formation (in the tradition of Karl Deutsch), Andreas Wimmer paints an original and compelling picture of the historical development of the nation-state and the relationship of state-building to contemporary violence.’

David D. Laitin - Watkins Professor of Political Science, Stanford University

‘Andreas Wimmer’s Waves of War uses quantitative comparative-historical analysis with stunning success to address some of the biggest questions of macrosociology: the creation of large-scale ethnic communities, the birth of the nation-state, and the role of warfare in the creation of the modern political world.’

James Mahoney - Northwestern University

'Beginning in the nineteenth century, cycles of violent upheaval and world war collapsed empires and dynastic kingdoms, while the nation-state spread to every corner of the globe. This ambitious book provides one of the best accounts yet of this grand transformation of the global political order, driven by the explosive appeal of nationalism and self-rule … Wimmer’s major contribution is to demonstrate how the spread of the nation-state generated violence and war. Marshaling carefully assembled quantitative evidence, [he] shows that the incidence of war more than doubled once nationalism gained a foothold in world politics and triggered violent struggles over borders, ethnicity, and self-determination.'

Source: Foreign Affairs

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