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Empire of Humanity: A History of Humanitarianism Paperback – 3 Jan 2013

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Product details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press; Reprint edition (3 Jan. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801478790
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801478796
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.7 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 509,913 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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From the Back Cover

Michael Barnett takes the reader on a fascinating intellectual journey through the rich and little known history of humanitarianism, its roots in religious tradition, and its ambiguous and conflict-ridden relationship with diplomacy and military power. Empire of Humanity is a great read that explains much about why the humanitarian enterprise has ended up where it is now; it is thoughtful, well written, and nuanced.--Andrew Natsios, Georgetown University, former vice president of World Vision U.S. (1993-1998) and administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (2001-2006)

The ability to respond to the pain of a suffering world means neither to believe in oneself blindly nor to doubt oneself into paralysis. This subtle truth emerging from the epoch of humanitarianism, as Michael Barnett panoramically reconstructs it, takes the field to an entirely new level of sophistication and reflection. Synthesizing disparate research into the past of transnational compassion, Barnett's outstanding book turns to history to make a major contribution to the study of international politics and lay the ground for a future in which sympathy and self-questioning depend on one another.--Samuel Moyn, Columbia University, author of The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History

Returning to the Western sources of humanitarianism, Michael Barnett offers a history in the longue durée, from the antislavery movement to contemporary killing fields and refugee camps. His lucid and honest analysis of the ideologies and practices, ambitions and engagements, ambiguities and contradictions of the humanitarian movement questions the moral foundations of our politics of compassion.--Didier Fassin, James D. Wolfensohn Professor in the School of Social Sciences, Institute for Advanced Study, and coauthor of The Empire of Trauma: An Inquiry into the Condition of Victimhood

Michael Barnett has pulled off a tour de force with his new book, Empire of Humanity. He unpacks the history, myth, and manipulation of this endeavor, from the founding myths way back in that first period of globalization in the nineteenth century, through the world wars and the cold war to the complexity of today's operations. Barnett shows how humanitarianism has always been intractably tied up with the liberal aspirations of the day and the political necessity for projecting foreign policy, and how the internal angst over whether to save lives and remain neutral or to commit to challenging the causes of inhumanity, has always divided the humanitarian church. This is a solid, highly readable analytical history, standing in stark contrast to many recent works high on cynicism and hype but low on fact.--Peter Walker, Irwin H. Rosenberg Professor of Nutrition and Human Security and Director of the Feinstein International Center, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University

"In Empire of Humanity, Michael Barnett gives a critical history and a contemporary account of humanitarian practice. Each phase is differentiated by the particular sociohistorical combination of three sets of forces--destruction (states and warfare), production (capitalism), and compassion (norms in international relations). Barnett surveys the variety of dilemmas humanitarians have faced and the choices they have made; his compelling account is the most comprehensive and sophisticated single-volume analysis of the history and practice of humanitarianism currently available."--Stephen Hopgood, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, author of Keepers of the Flame: Understanding Amnesty International

This well-paced and lucid book is the political history against which every other account of humanitarianism will have to be measured. Barnett opens up the field of humanitarianism for further study in a manner that few could emulate. This book has breadth and depth. It is scholarly and yet immensely readable--anyone interested in NGOs, volunteers, practitioners, and policymakers will need to read this text to make sense of humanitarian aid today. An indispensable book.--Bertrand Taithe, University of Manchester

This is the first major scholarly book that covers the Western humanitarian system since its beginning. Empire of Humanity is indispensable.--Craig N. Murphy, John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, University of Massachusetts Boston --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S Hewett on 10 July 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One of the reviews describes it as the best single volume on the subject. This is an excellent introduction.

Highly recommended.
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Amazon.com: 1 review
3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Empire of Humanity: A History of Humanitarianism 3 Oct. 2013
By Flavia - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book is okay, though a bit schematic. The author tries to formulate abstracts like eras (one coming after the other) and the "forces" in interplay producing each "era". Actually, it takes maybe too much time talking about abstracts and too litle talking about regular plain facts and events and regulations and specific actions.
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