Louis Kreisberg. Realizing Peace: A Constructive Conflict Approach
New York: Oxford University Press, 2015, 416 pages. Paperback ISBN 978019022. Available in March from Amazon at $34.95.
“… too often people act in the mistaken belief that there are no alternatives to the bad choices they are compelled to make.”
So states Louis Kriesberg in Realizing Peace in which he persuasively makes the case that there are and have been alternatives to the violent conflicts that have continued to rage over the decades since the end of World War II. The book is a cornucopia of such alternatives set in the historical context of US involvement in the major international crises and chronic conflicts that have plagued the contemporary global order.
In this meticulously researched work, he offers both a detailed political history of the evolutions of those conflicts, the actual policy choices that so often led to disastrous results, and describes alternative action choices that promised more constructive outcomes, summarizing with a practical path forward. President John Kennedy assertion that “Peace is a process…” Professor Kriesberg clearly demonstrates that the process of peace is constructive conflict resolution.
As a former teacher of history, I found in this book to be especially suited to initiating critical reflection the assumptions of inevitability students bring to the study of the past; believing that war and violence were in the “natural order” of the political evolution of human society. As a peace educator, I experienced this assumption to be one of the major pedagogic challenges to enabling students to envision possibilities for a warless world and to speculating on the multiple nonviolent alternative courses of action that could be brought to dealing with contemporary conflicts. Given the policy choices on which Americans are currently called to pass judgment, this book should be considered as an essential component of the core readings for courses in American history and/or foreign policy, and should be on the professional reading lists of all secondary and higher education teachers of all forms of citizenship education.
In sum, I highly recommend Realizing Peace is an essential resource for all teachers and researchers in peace and conflict studies, international relations and modern history. It is an invaluable learning tool for all teaching and working in the various fields of building knowledge and taking action for peace, it is a unique, hopeful and fundamentally practical work.
Betty A. Reardon
Founding Director Emeritus
International Institute on Peace Education
(IIPE is based at the University of Toledo)
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