Sunday, February 4, 2007

Reviewed: Armitage, The Declaration of Independence

The Boston Globe reviews David Armitage, The Declaration of Independence: A Global History (Harvard University Press, 2007). Michael Kenney writes:

In 1991, no fewer than 23 countries adopted declarations of independence in a flurry that followed the dismantling of the Soviet Union. In the 10 years between 1958 and 1968, there were 14 declarations after the breakup of colonial empires in Africa.

Another eight in Europe, after World War I, and, to go back further, 20 countries (several of them more than once) between 1810 and 1844, as Spain's colonial empire in South and Central America fragmented, issued declarations of independence.

An "outbreak of a contagion of sovereignty," a veritable "pandemic" even, writes David Armitage, a professor of history at Harvard, in "The Declaration of Independence," a provocative study of a subject about which one might have thought there was nothing new to report....
The thrust of these foreign declarations has been to make statements of independence and to place the new nations, of Eastern Europe, colonial Africa, or Latin America, among the nations of the world, Armitage writes, " rather than an enumeration of the rights of individuals against their governors."

For the rest, click here.