The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Done! … for now (and with a jot of guilt, just as a bonus)

February 29, 2008

I just sent my book manuscript, provisionally entitled Religious Conflict, International Change, and the Struggle for Power in Early Modern Europe, to Princeton University Press, sans a few “final status” maps.

The blurb I wrote for it (but not the one they’ll use):

In 1517 Charles of Habsburg, ruler of the Netherlands and Franche-Comté, arrived in Castile to claim the thrones of Castile and Aragon-Catalonia. That same year, Martin Luther publicly challenged the Catholic Church and triggered a series of religious upheavals known as the Protestant Reformations. In 1521 Charles, now emperor-elect of the Holy Roman Empire, declared Luther an outlaw and demanded that his German subjects destroy Luther’s works.

For well over the next century, the spread of reformation movements rocked a European order already subject to intense power-political rivalries. Charles, defeated by German Protestants, divided his vast domains between his brother Ferdinand and his son, Philip II of Spain. France next fell into decades of civil war. The Dutch began an Eighty Years War for independence against the Spanish Habsburg Monarchy. Unresolved religious tensions in Germany eventually exploded into the European-wide conflict known as the Thirty Years War.

International-relations scholars have long debated whether these events inaugurated the modern state system. But they have overlooked a more fundamental puzzle: why did the spread of transnational religious movements lead to a profound crisis in the European order? Nexon argues that the key to this question lies in the imperial character of early modern states. He presents a theory of imperial dynamics that explains how transnational religious contention altered the European balance of power. In doing so, he develops a new approach to studying state formation and international change, one with broad implications for the theory and analysis of contemporary world politic

At 127,270 words, thirteen figures, and eleven maps, one of the office administrators and I could barely jam the thing into our largest FedEx box.

Note to self: write next book for non-masochist audience.

Anyway, I’d like to say that this event means that I’ll resume serious blogging, but sadly, it merely frees me to finish and/or begin work on five other projects. As these pieces range in due date from “five months ago” to “April,” I expect no major increase in substantive blogging on my part. I also expect that my completion–or non-completion–of these projects will occur not long before I receive the manuscript back to review copy edits.

But it feels churlish to complain about anything after reading Elizabeth Rubin’s remarkable article in The New York Times, “Battle Company is Out There.” It is always important to remember that the United States currently prosecutes not one, but two wars.

The article involves so many valences I cannot begin to describe them: the effect of the air campaign, the dilemmas of occupations and counter-insurgency, the similarities with the experience of empires–both in the core and the periphery–and so forth.

And it wrenches the heart, on behalf troops, Afghans caught in the crossfire, and for all the mistakes the United States has made over the last few years.

Just read it, if you haven’t already.

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Daniel H. Nexon is a Professor at Georgetown University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Government and the School of Foreign Service. His academic work focuses on international-relations theory, power politics, empires and hegemony, and international order. He has also written on the relationship between popular culture and world politics.