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The other cold war : [book review] Byrne, Jeffrey Sep 1, 2013

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Pacific Affairs: Volume 86, No. 2 ? June 2013384assigned it to our undergraduates?and is also a delight for those researchers who have wondered what the original sources say and how those kinds of decisions were reasoned and understood. This approach succeeds because of the special magnifying lens the author uses, closely contrasting two people who are, as Kennedy says, ?usually studied in isolation.? The result takes the reader beyond the conventional historic limits of ?China? and ?India,? and is ground-breaking.Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada Robert S. Anderson THE OTHER COLD WAR. Columbia Studies in International and Global History. By Heonik Kwon. New York: Columbia University Press, 2010. xi, 211 pp. US$50.00, cloth. ISBN 978-0-231-15304-1.Near the mid-point of this slim but thought-provoking book, Heonik Kwon recounts how for one Vietnamese family the Cold War ended not with the Eastern European upheavals of 1989, but rather in 1996, when an elderly mother finally made the choice to publicly commemorate both of her sons, who had died on opposite sides of her country?s prolonged and deeply internationalized civil war. Her belated decision to place the photograph of the son who died in the service of the South Vietnamese army alongside that of his ?red hero? brother poignantly encapsulates Kwon?s trenchant critique of the prevailing interpretation of the Cold War as a historical era. As a social ethnographer who has written extensively on commemoration in Korea and Vietnam, Kwon has good reason to object to the popular portrayal of the Cold War as a ?long peace,? arguing that such a narrative displays an excessive focus on the relatively tranquil Western and Soviet experiences of a period that witnessed very real and costly conflicts in other parts of the world. The Other Cold War makes a passionate and compelling case for shifting our perspective from the Northern Hemisphere?s experience of a largely metaphorical or ?imaginary? bilateral conflict to, in contrast, a more socially and culturally oriented ?bottom-up? analysis of the so-called ?peripheral? regions of the developing world, where the fighting was frequently very ?hot? and state terror nearly ubiquitous. In his quest for a comprehensive new narrative for the Cold War era, Kwon has produced a heady historiographical and intellectual meta-analysis rather than a survey. While the book?s central section does draw more heavily on the author?s own first-hand research in South Korea and Vietnam, for the most part The Other Cold War is a dense and impressively wide-ranging exploration of the scholarly literature from several disciplines including history, anthropology, and social and cultural theory. For nearly 160 restless pages, the author interrogates the contributions of such broad subjects as postcoloniality, race and culture to our understanding of the Cold War, 385Book Reviewspromiscuously juxtaposing diverse theorists like Hannah Arendt, Slavoj Zizek and Dipesh Chakrabarty with prominent historians of international relations such as Marilyn Young, Bruce Cumings and Odd Arne Westad, whose work generally epitomizes archival empiricism. These inquiries frequently reward the reader?s concentration by recontextualizing seemingly familiar ideas or making novel connections between them. For example, Kwon suggests that Clifford Geertz?s ?understanding that political power can be about ?display, regard, and drama? originates ? in part from his observation of cold war politics as spectacle and drama in 1950s and 1960s America (and this is why his theory of symbolic power appeals to students of America?s cold war culture)? (151). Alternatively, in his discussion of postcolonial historiography, he questions the viability of Chakrabarty and Partha Chatterjee?s efforts to provincialize the Western experience of modernity on the basis that they neglect the extent to which the Cold War?s bilateral political imperatives immediately preoccupied postcolonial elites and replaced the power dynamics of the colonial era (127-129). That said, a shortcoming of Kwon?s historiographical summary is that he probably exaggerates the dominance of the Western-centric, geopolitical ?long peace? narrative in the first place. Mostly closely associated with John Lewis Gaddis (to Kwon?s mind at least), this narrative may still predominate in the public sphere, but for at least a decade now the ?new international history? has already been very oriented around the production of bottom-up, non-Western and global narratives. It is clear that Kwon does recognize this recent historical trend because he draws heavily on the work of those who exemplify it, such as the aforementioned Young and Westad, among others. Indeed, Columbia University Press has published The Other Cold War as part of a series overseen by two pioneers of the new international/global history, Matthew Connelly and Adam McKeown. Still, the initial impression that Kwon might be constructing a ?long peace? unnecessarily distracts from this book?s real accomplishments. Of those accomplishments, perhaps the most important is to remind would-be ?new international historians? of the importance of searching for an ambitious, comprehensive new narrative of the Cold War. This book offers a refreshing reminder to those of us engaged in that endeavour that for all of the methodological innovations and novel contributions of the new wave of international history, a collective paradigm shift has not yet occurred. Certainly, Kwon does not yet have all the answers or a clear vision of the end goal, but he poses many of the right questions and provides an extremely valuable assessment of the road thus traveled. For this reason, The Other Cold War should quickly become necessary reading for all those interested in the global historiography of the late twentieth century.The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada Jeffrey James Byrne


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