I’ve just finished reading a book given to us by our son at Christmas and it has made me feel like it’s Easter.

Peace of Westphalia artwork by Wenceslas Hollar (1607-77) from the University of Toronto digital collection

Peace of Westphalia artwork by Wenceslas Hollar (1607-77) from the University of Toronto digital collection

Ninety-year-old Henry Kissinger’s 14th book seeks and answers questions on how we can face the greatest, most consequential issues of the human condition in our time. Entitled World Order, it is dedicated “to my wife, Nancy, who is everything to me”. In seven chapters he analyzes how chaos was prevented in the past and what must be done to create order in the future. He hardly mentions himself although he has played a huge role as a U.S. statesman, political scientist and history professor. If his book is widely read and acted upon, he won’t be forgotten.

  • He reminds us that the impact of the Westphalian treaties has fallen apart in the 20th and 21st centuries. They were signed in 1648 after Europe was exhausted by the Thirty Years’ War . We must seek some sort of underlying unity to replace them.
  • We take for granted things made possible by the Westphalian system, such as national identities, the eventual growth of democracies and national competition. After it was signed, there were fewer countries and each was loyal to a national prince instead of a prince of the Church. Not only the religious differences between Catholics and Eastern Orthodox or Muslim and Christian divided peoples; language identity and borders did. For example, Britain would choose whom to support in conflicts on the basis of preserving the balance of power instead of on the basis of religion.
  • Here is the 5-star review we posted on Amazon after finishing the book: “One of the best books we (M. & T. Virany) have ever read. Mr. Kissinger’s chapters covering the last few years and up to the present are excellent. His chapter about the period following the 30-year war and the Westphalia treaties and their consequences is outstanding. As a former history teacher (T. V.) and journalists (both), we particularly liked that. The book is concisely written and edited yet takes time to quote from T.S. Eliot and ancient wisdom.”
  • Index Research Tip: If you would like to look up or quote a specific topic or phrase but don’t have time to read the entire book, go here and click on ‘Look Inside’ above the cover image. Enter the word or words that interest you (e.g. ‘technology’, ‘internet’, ‘terror attacks’, or ‘Chou En Lai’  in the search box provided.

www.amazon.com/author/margaretvirany

www.margaretvirany.com

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