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An Age of Neutrals
Great Power Politics, 1815–1914

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  • Date Published: June 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107037601

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About the Authors
  • An Age of Neutrals provides a pioneering history of neutrality in Europe and the wider world between the Congress of Vienna and the outbreak of the First World War. The 'long' nineteenth century (1815–1914) was an era of unprecedented industrialization, imperialism and globalization; one which witnessed Europe's economic and political hegemony across the world. Dr Maartje Abbenhuis explores the ways in which neutrality reinforced these interconnected developments. She argues that a passive conception of neutrality has thus far prevented historians from understanding the high regard with which neutrality, as a tool of diplomacy and statecraft and as a popular ideal with numerous applications, was held. This compelling new history exposes neutrality as a vibrant and essential part of the nineteenth-century international system; a powerful instrument used by great and small powers to solve disputes, stabilize international relations and promote a variety of interests within and outside the continent.

    • Explores the role of neutrality in the international system in nineteenth-century Europe
    • Sheds new light on the significance of neutrality to Great Britain and keeping Europe at peace
    • Offers an original contribution to the historiography of nineteenth-century international relations
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    • A Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2015

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Comprehensive and full of arresting insights, Maartje Abbenhuis' new study compels us to reconsider not only the history of neutrality in the long nineteenth century, but also the conduct of and limits upon power politics. This book will resonate with historians and political scientists alike.' William Mulligan, University College Dublin

    'An Age of Neutrals marks an impressive addition to the scholarly literature on neutrality. Integrating the work of historians, international lawyers and, in the broadest sense, international relations specialists, Abbenhuis sheds new light on our understanding of modern international practice in this key period of Europe's history.' Thomas Otte, University of East Anglia

    'An impressively thoroughly researched, thoughtfully argued, and wide ranging study that offers a series of important insights into a topic that played a central role in nineteenth-century diplomacy and for too long has been unjustly neglected.' David Stevenson, London School of Economics and Political Science

    'Meticulously researched, Maartje Abbenhuis' Age of Neutrals not only exposes the critical role played by neutrality in the 'long nineteenth century', but also offers a profoundly arresting, innovative and at times provocative interpretation of the international politics of the era.' Neville Wylie, University of Nottingham

    'An Age of Neutrals is a rich, beautifully written, and expansive investigation into a long-lost diplomatic tradition.' H-Diplo

    'In the twentieth-century age of total war and collective security, neutrality has not been highly regarded, but Maartje Abbenhuis convincingly argues that, between 1815 and 1914, neutrality was 'neither insignificant nor a policy reserved for the weak' … Abbenhuis has given us extremely useful ways in which to consider the value of neutrality in the nineteenth century.' Nicole M. Phelps, American Historical Review

    '… Abbenhuis's [book is] ambitious and, above all, very readable … It is essential reading for all those interested in the international relations in the nineteenth century.' Samuël Kruizinga, Low Countries Historical Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2014
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107037601
    • length: 300 pages
    • dimensions: 231 x 160 x 23 mm
    • weight: 0.57kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: it is not the neutrals or lukewarms that make history
    1. Neutrality on the eve of the industrial age
    2. Neutrality, neutralisation and the Concert of Europe
    3. The neutrals' war: Britain and the global implications of the Crimean War
    4. How to be neutral: negotiating neutrality in the wars of nationhood, 1859–72
    5. Neutrality as an international and patriotic ideal
    6. Regulating neutrality from The Hague to The Hague, 1898–1907
    7. Neutral no more: neutrality and the origins of the First World War
    Conclusion: international law's 'finest and most fragile flower'

  • Author

    Maartje Abbenhuis, University of Auckland
    Maartje Abbenhuis is Senior Lecturer in Modern European History at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, where she has worked since 2003. She completed her PhD in History at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, in 2001. Her research interests lie in the history of neutrality and internationalism, especially in the period 1815 to 1918, the history of borderlands, and popular representations of Nazism. She has published widely on the history of the Netherlands in the First World War and co-edited two interdisciplinary collections, one on non-combatants and the other on Nazism in post-1945 popular culture. She was the recipient of two prestigious Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden Grants (one in 2004, the other in 2013) as well as a University of Auckland Early Career Excellence Award in 2008. The Faculty of Arts at the University of Auckland awarded her an Early Career Teaching Excellence Award in 2006 and a Sustained Excellence in Teaching Award in 2013. She is a member of several history associations including the Royal Dutch Historical Association, the New Zealand Historical Association and the Australasian Association of European Historians.


    • A Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2015

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