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The Social Democratic Moment: Ideas and Politics in the Making of Interwar Europe [Hardcover]

Sheri Berman
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

31 July 1998
This text argues against the grain of many late-20th-century theories in political science by explicitly discussing when and how ideas influence political behaviour; exploring the German and Swedish Social Democrat Movements during the interwar period. Even though German and Swedish social democrats belonged to the same transnational political movement and faced similar political and social conditions in their respective countires before and after World War I, they responded very differently to the challenges of democratization and the Great Depression - with far-reaching consequences for the fates of the countries and the world at large. Explaining why these two social democratic parties acted so differently is the primary task of this book. Sheri Berman's answer is that they had very different ideas about politics and economics - what she terms programmatic beliefs. The Swedish Social Democrats placed themselves at the forefront of the drive for democratization and a decade later responded to the Great Depression with a bold economic programme, using it to build a period of political hegemony. The German Social Democrats, on the other hand, had democracy thrust upon them and then dithered when faced with economic crisis; their haplessness clearing the way for a bolder and more skillful political actor - Adolf Hilter.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 316 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (31 July 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067444261X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674442610
  • Product Dimensions: 24.3 x 16.5 x 2.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,949,580 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

[Berman's] work is convincing and well written, and her discussion of the role of ideas is spirited and welcome. Chapter 2 should be required reading for all political scientists who are unwilling to look beyond numbers to see the force of ideas. Foreign Affairs [The Social Democratic Movement] is a comparative analysis of the developments of two of the most important social democratic parties in Europe, the SPD of Germany and the SAP of Sweden. It sets out to explain how the German Social Democrats, at the largest interwar party, could not effectively prevent the collapse of Weimar Germany, whereas at the same time the Swedish Social Democrats were establishing political hegemony in their own country...The book outlines the contrasts between the Swedish and German developments through well-contextualized country-specific chapters, first on long-term political development, then on national transitions to (full) democracy, then on responses to the depression. The book is thoroughly researched and clearly written, with each chapter beginning with an insightful and very fitting quotation. -- Alan Siaroff Recensions [Italy]

About the Author

Sheri Berman is Assistant Professor of Politics at Princeton University.

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Format:Hardcover
If you want to know what political science can and should be, read this book. It takes important questions and answers them clearly and intelligently, with learning but not jargon. I wish all scholarly books were like this.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Political science analysis at its very best. 23 Feb 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This first rate study of the struggles of pre-WW 2 democratic parties in Europe casts an illuminating light on the problems of emerging democratic societies in the post=Soviet period. It is thoughtful and well written.
2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a soon-to-be classic study of European political history 30 April 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
If you want to know what political science can and should be, read this book. It takes important questions and answers them clearly and intelligently, with learning but not jargon. I wish all scholarly books were like this.
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