Citations for Past Winners of the Marshall Shulman Book Prize

2016

Eileen Kane for Russian Hajj: Empire and the Pilgrimage to Mecca (Cornell University Press)

This engaging and innovative gem is a joy to read and a remarkable piece of scholarship, destined to reshape how scholars think about the late Russian imperial era and its foreign policies. Eileen Kane breaks new ground by describing how the 19th century tsarist state both supported and interfered with the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca in order to further Russian imperial ambitions. Using previously untapped archival materials and drawing on beautiful maps and illustrations, Kane shows that Islam was a more important political tool in imperial Russia than previous scholars have recognized, and relates her arguments to additional political themes with current weight including migration, inter-ethnic relations, and the Russian state’s approach to religion. Kane forces us to rethink basic assumptions about the fixity of state boundaries, the exercise of institutional power, and the relationship between state and non-state actors, and expertly connects the roles played by transportation companies and those who controlled the networked Hajj complex to the policies of the tsarist state. The book is especially fitting for the Shulman Prize because it is centered on a historical topic that has great relevance for current events, for example in thinking about the relationship between the Kremlin and Islam in the North Caucasus.

Honorable Mention

Lauri Malksoo for Russian Approaches to International Law (Oxford University Press)

In this original, objective, and deeply researched volume, Lauri Malksoo grounds current debates about Russian international legal understandings in a distinct intellectual and analytical tradition. He demonstrates that what many in the international community have commonly thought of as the Russian state's obstreperousness on international legal questions is actually based on a cohesive philosophy extending back before Soviet times, reflected in legal scholarship that echoes through the generations. Malksoo connects these ideas and theories to Russia’s actual practical engagement with the law, including in the areas of human rights, economics, and military intervention. The book uses this framework to dissect many important contemporary cases, including Kosovo, the Russia-Georgia war, Crimea, the Yukos oil conglomerate controversy, and the European Court of Human Rights. By situating Russian legal understandings in the current “civilizational” and “regionalization” foreign policy imperatives, this book stands as a testimony to the value of historical institutionalism in explaining foreign policy choices.

2015

Oscar Sanchez-Sibony for Red Globalization: The Political Economy of the Soviet Cold War from Stalin to Khrushchev (Cambridge University Press)

Oscar Sanchez-Sibony’s Red Globalization exposes the complex and long-lasting challenges and opportunities that the global capitalist economic system, in its various incarnations, presented the Soviet Union. Unearthing archival material—including high-level internal political communications—this fine work upends conventional memes of Soviet autarky and parallel Soviet and capitalist systems during the Cold War. Sanchez-Sibony deftly traces the reality of Soviet economic underdevelopment and the continuities in strategy during and after Stalin’s rule to contend with the preponderance of Western economic might like other middle-income economies. The historical and analytical renderings of Soviet exclusion from Bretton Woods, persistent acknowledgment by senior officials of the poor quality of Soviet goods and the impact on trade strategies, the Western sub-text and constraints on Soviet engagement in the global South, and steady influence of Anastas Mikoyan are especially illuminating. This book complements the spirit—intellectual and empirical—of Marshall Shulman’s own challenge to the prevailing realist and orthodox arguments of the early Cold War, by extending the period and imposing the prism of liberal political economy through which to reappraise the Stalinist legacy on Soviet foreign policy.

Honorable Mention

Austin Jersild for The Sino-Soviet Alliance: An International History (UNC Press)

Through an impressive and multi-dimensional archival exploration, and novel re-framing of the system of komandirovka as a transnational institution, Austin Jersild’s engaging book, The Sino-Soviet Alliance, presents a new twist on the practice of intra-Soviet-Socialist bloc exchange. It posits an interesting set of arguments about Soviet imperial identity, newly applied to the relationship with China, and about how this imperial identity was constrained at the working- and technical-levels by Moscow’s own East-Central European “vassals” (who were not that vassal-like) as well as nuances of triangular diplomacy with the U.S.

2014

Per Högselius for Red Gas: Russia and the Origins of European Energy Dependence (Palgrave Macmillan)

In this superb example of transnational history, Red Gas, by Per Högselius, tells the story behind Western Europe’s dependence on Russian natural gas, beginning in the 1960s all the way up to the present day.  Drawing upon multiple archives in Russia, Ukraine, Germany and Austria, Högeselius’ account has many moving parts:  including Alexei Kortunov, the visionary official at the head of Soviet gas production who advocated the export of natural gas to Western Europe beginning in the 1950s; Rudolf Lukesch, the enterprising director of Austria’s state-owned steel industry who arranged the first deal importing Soviet gas in exchange for pipeline in 1968; and German Chancellor Willy Brandt, who saw the gas trade as part of his Ostpolitik strategy to reduce cold war tensions.  Högselius guides the reader with confidence and clarity through the intricacies of cold war diplomacy, the complexities of doing business between the capitalist West and socialist East, and all the technical constraints involved in creating an infrastructure that can transport natural gas from Siberia to Western Europe.   The result is a far more nuanced view of the energy trade as a political resource for both importers and exporters.  Despite Western fears that dependence on Soviet gas might make Europe vulnerable to “politically motivated supply disruptions,” the Soviets had both an economic and political interest in honoring its agreements even when tensions were high, and even when they had to reduce distributions to their own population.    

2013

Ted Hopf for Reconstructing the Cold War. The Early Years, 1945-1958 (Oxford University Press)

Using a form of Constructivism, which emphasizes the role that identity plays in a state’s foreign relations, Ted Hopf explores Soviet foreign policy in the early years of the Cold War. He contrasts what he calls “the discourse of danger” in Stalin’s last years with a “discourse of difference” in the five years after Stalin’s death. He argues that the ideas motivating post-Stalin policy toward China and Eastern Europe were already present in Soviet society, lodged in institutional homes that enabled them to survive the repression of the late Stalin years. Hopf calls his theoretical approach “societal constructivism.” He argues that state identities are formed not so much in the interaction with other states as in the discourses in domestic society. This ambitious book explores, with great originality, the relationship between societal change and foreign policy in the Soviet Union during the Cold War. It challenges us to think in new ways about the Cold War and about international relations more generally.

Honorable Mention

Rinna KullaaNon-Alignment and its Origins in Cold War Europe: Yugoslavia, Finland, and the Soviet Challenge (I.B. Tauris)

On the basis of careful archival work in Finland, Russia, and former Yugoslavia, Rinna Kullaa explores the ways in which Finland and Yugoslavia avoided absorption into the Soviet bloc in the early years of the Cold War. After its expulsion from the Cominform in 1948, Yugoslavia had to search for a new approach to foreign policy that would guarantee its independence. It was attracted to the Finnish policy of neutralism as a way of managing relations with the Soviet Union. Finland and Yugoslavia became partners in their pursuit of neutralism as a political strategy. By 1959, however, pressure from the Soviet Union and Soviet interference in Finnish politics had convinced Yugoslavia that it needed to develop relations with countries outside Europe if it was to remain outside the Soviet bloc. That is how it came to play an important role in the formation of the
Non-Aligned Movement. Kullaa provides a very shrewd and illuminating analysis not only of a vital aspect of Cold War Europe but also of the emergence of non-alignment as a powerful force in world politics.

2012

Roger D. Petersen for Western Intervention in the Balkans: The Strategic Use of Emotion in Conflict (Cambridge University Press)

This important work argues that Western interventions in the Balkans have been hampered by a failure to understand the role of emotion in ethnic conflict. Roger Petersen seeks to rectify this by analyzing emotions as resources that can be mobilized by political entrepreneurs in the pursuit of political strategies and by exploring the conditions under which different emotions can be exploited in this way. He illustrates his argument with a series of well-researched Balkan case studies. Extensively grounded in the literature on ethnic conflict and international intervention, Western Intervention in the Balkans has important implications for theory as well as for policymaking.

Honorable Mention

Sean McMeekinThe Russian Origins of the First World War (Harvard University Press)

In this engaging and provocative book, Sean McMeekin argues that Russian decision makers sought to provoke the destruction of the Ottoman Empire in order to achieve their longstanding objective of gaining control over the Turkish Straits. Russia's war aims, and its calculated steps to achieve them, were thus a crucially important factor that has been largely overlooked by historians. In making this case the author provides fascinating new evidence on a number of key issues, including: the early dates of Russian mobilization; Russian efforts to engage fifth column support among Armenians within Ottoman territory; and St. Petersburg's strategy of manipulating Britain and France into bearing the brunt of casualties at Gallipoli—ultimately in support of Russia's war aims. In sum, this is an unusually bold and challenging account, one that will force historians to reconsider Russia's role in the origins of World War I.

2011

Lara J. Nettelfield for Courting Democracy in Bosnia and Herzegovina: The Hague Tribunal's Impact in a Postwar State (Cambridge University Press)

Lara J. Nettelfield's Courting Democracy in Bosnia and Herzegovina: The Hague Tribunal's Impact in a Postwar State makes a significant contribution to the study of transitional justice in the fields of international relations theory and international law. Through ethnographic research, interviews, and survey data, Nettlefield is able to demonstrate that the current scholarship on transitional justice too narrowly specifies the possible effects of international courts, such as the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. She shows that the court has had a range of positive effects on the ground in Bosnia and Herzegovina, even if they are not the effects theorized by scholars or even intended by the ICTY itself. Nettelfield's work demonstrates the promise held out by multiple methodological approaches. Without her ethnographic sensibility, her years of on-the-ground soaking and poking, and her fielding a survey that had already been executed by other scholars in a different time and place, she never would have been able to redefine the way we think about the possible salutary effects of transitional justice.

2010

Lorenz Lüthi for The Sino-Soviet Split: Cold War in the Communist World (Princeton University Press), and Mary Elise Sarotte, 1989: The Struggle to Create Post-Cold War Europe (Princeton University Press)

Lorenz Lüthi's The Sino-Soviet Split: Cold War in the Communist World is likely to become the last best word on the subject. In his nonpareil use of multiple archival sources, many beyond the more obvious Soviet and Chinese ones, Lüthi has developed a far more comprehensive account of the origins and progress of the Sino-Soviet split than any scholar to date. This volume will be a reference work for others for some years to come.


Mary Elise Sarotte's book, 1989: The Struggle to Create Post-Cold War Europe, tells the fascinating story of the beginning of the end of the Cold War: the collapse of the Berlin Wall and East Germany's unification with West Germany a year later. Despite the fact that her readers all know how the story ends, the book unfolds like a page-turner, rather than an historical chronology. Sarotte sketches the primary Soviet, German, European, and US characters with the depth they deserve, and explains in detail the consequences of their many meetings. She reveals how the reunification of Germany was hardly pre-ordained and also how Moscow's consent sowed the seeds of future distrust between the US and Russia.

Honorable Mention

Keith DardenEconomic Liberalism and Its Rivals: The Formation of International Institutions among the Post-Soviet States (Cambridge University Press)

2008

Vladislav Zubok for A Failed Empire: The Soviet in the Cold War from Stalin to Gorbachev (University of North Carolina Press, New Cold War History Series)

Vladislav Zubok has written the most thorough, clear, and engaging account of the Soviet side of the cold war to appear yet in English. He relies on a very rich Russian and American source base, including Politburo records, ciphered telegrams, private papers, and diaries as well as a wide range of secondary sources. Zubok taps many new sources and he makes very good use of existing ones. The book is well structured and well argued. It provides a convincing analysis of the roles of individual Soviet leaders, ideology, historical experiences, economics, and other factors in influencing Soviet foreign policy during the cold war.

Zubok’s chapter on Gorbachev is the most detailed, balanced and persuasive account of what was happening and why in this crucial period that we have seen. After examining the contending explanations for the end of the cold war, Zubok provides a fascinating, close-up look at the ways in which Gorbachev’s policies and personality led to the end of the cold war and the collapse of the USSR.

One learns a tremendous amount from this book, and we expect it to be widely used in research and teaching by historians and political scientists and all those who are interested in the history of the USSR.

2007

Charles Gati for Failed Illusions: Moscow, Washington, Budapest, and the 1956 Hungarian Revolt (co-published by Woodrow Wilson Center Press and Stanford University Press in the Cold War International History Project Series)

Failed Illusions is a fascinating and multifaceted study of the Hungarian revolt of 1956 in its international and domestic context. Charles Gati has investigated Hungarian, Russian, and US archival sources and memoir accounts and interviewed dozens of people with direct experience of the events, from secret police officials to dissidents. His excavation of political decisions taken in Washington and Moscow provides an important geopolitical complement to his thorough recounting of the tragic developments within Hungary itself. Particularly valuable is his exploration of the role played by Western radio broadcasts during the crisis. The author’s interviews and research into the archives of the Central Intelligence Agency and Radio Free Europe shed considerable light on this long-controversial subject. Professor Gati conveys the hopes, expectations, and disappointments of the participants in the Hungarian revolt, based in part on his own experiences, and contrasts them to subsequent analyses, including ones occasioned by the equally dramatic events of 1989. He deftly combines attention to historical detail with broader political observations and a subtle treatment of the role of memory. The tone of this engagingly written study is modest and judicious throughout, combining the engagement of someone who has lived through the events he describes with the detachment of a mature scholar who knows how to put them into perspective.

2006

Alexander Cooley for Logics of Hierarchy: The Organization of Empires, States, and Military Occupations (Cornell University Press), and Milada Anna Vachudova, Europe Undivided: Democracy, Leverage & Integration After Communism (Oxford University Press)

In Logics of Hierarchy, Alexander Cooley has produced an elegant theoretical interpretation of the politics of post-Soviet Central Asia. By focusing on the ways in which sectors of the post-Soviet economies varied in their organization, Cooley has turned our attention to a critical, but heretofore poorly understood influence on the international relations of post-Soviet Eurasia. Informed by Cooley’s interpretation of organizational theory, Logics of Hierarchy is one of the most creative, well-researched, and well-argued books to have been written about the region in the past decade. Cooley also connects political developments in the region to the wider world through a judicious application of his model to a variety of political hierarchies in Asia, the Middle East, and international monetary and financial affairs.


 In Europe Undivided, Milada Vachudova provides the most convincing account to date of the relationship between the European Union and the international politics of central and eastern Europe. In distinguishing between the European Union’s purposeful attempts to shape the politics of its eastern neighbors and the influence that derived simply from its norms, Vachudova provides a sophisticated analysis of the varied effects of European practices and policies on the domestic politics in prospective members. Vachudova thus matches her theoretical sophistication with erudite, nuanced empirical scholarship. Furthermore, by linking the process of democratization with patterns of international relations, Vachudova succeeds in connecting scholarly literatures that are too often separated.