Know Your Enemy: The Rise and Fall of America's Soviet Experts. By David C. Engerman. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. 480p. $34.95.
Know Your Enemy is a sociology of knowledge of the rise of post–World War II Russian and Soviet Studies, written by intellectual historian David C. Engerman. While it is not a work of political science, it offers an important historical analysis of a foundational episode in the history of the political science discipline. It is an account of the evolution of a specific field—Soviet Studies—but it is more than this, because this particular field was at the heart of the development of post–World War II area studies in general, and the intellectual and political engagements linked to the evolution of area studies were crucial to the development of modern political and social science. This symposium thus brings together scholars of Soviet Studies, contemporary post-Soviet Russian politics, comparative politics and international relations more generally, and the history of the discipline, to reflect on this book. While participants were asked to critically evaluate the book's analysis, they were also asked to comment more generally on the rise (and fall?) of area studies, and the history of political science more broadly. The issues raised by the book relate to the history and evolution of the current discipline, but also bear upon its future. For in response to post–Cold War crises (many connected to the discourse of the “war on terror”), there have been new calls for security-related area research made by such institutions as the Department of Defense (the Minerva Program, administered by the National Science Foundation), the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Department of Education (in connection with Title VI funding of area studies). What does the history of Soviet Studies tell us about these recent developments, and about how individual political scientists and indeed the institutions of professional political science should respond to them?—Jeffrey C. Isaac, Editor