Wednesday, 28 March 2012

A book for the younger generations

You've heard this before: SAIS Bologna students learn inside and outside the classroom. This year the Bologna Institute for Policy Research (BIPR) is teaming up with city's best known international book store to spread the word outside the four walls of via Belmeloro 11.

Earlier this month, SAIS Bologna Prof. John Harper launched his latest book, The Cold War, at an event organized by BIPR and hosted by Feltrinelli International at their teeming book store in the center of Bologna. It followed on the footsteps of the recent launch of Prof. Mark Gilbert's book, European Integration: A Concise History.

Prof. John Harper
A pillar of SAIS Bologna's faculty, Prof. Harper has taught American foreign policy to several generations of students (including my colleague Nelson Graves).

We took the opportunity to ask Prof. Harper some questions.

Q: What is your book about?
Harper: It's a narrative history of the East-West conflict known as the Cold War. That is, it covers the period 1945-90 approximately but includes historical background on the two major protagonists of the story, Russia and the United States.

Q: How did the book come about? 
Harper: The book was commissioned by Oxford University Press in the UK to be part of their new "Oxford Histories" series. I was happy to accept their offer since I have been teaching the subject for many years.

Q: Who would enjoy reading the book?
Harper: The book is mainly designed for students and other young people (like my daughters, aged 19 and 26) for whom the subject is something they heard their parents and grandparents talking about but didn't live first-hand. It tries to explain, among other things, why the world lived on nuclear tenterhooks for much of the 45-50 year period in question, but also why the Cold War remained "cold" at least as far as Europe was concerned.

Q: What role has SAIS played in your book?
Harper: SAIS played a role in that some of the material in the book is based on lectures given in my classes on U.S. foreign policy, and there were a number of students who assisted with the research along the way.

Q: Your next work?
Harper: My next book will be a study focusing on a crucial moment in the Cold War, early 1950, something I did not have sufficient time and space (the book is a compact history) to explore.