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The Black Book
Woodrow Wilson's Secret Plan for Peace
Wesley J. Reisser
Prior to the end of World War I, President Wilson gathered a group of expert geographers, historians, economists, and political scientists – The Inquiry – to make plans for the coming peace conference. The Inquiry produced a secret document, the Black Book, containing maps and plans for the territorial settlements to be negotiated. This secret plan was brought daily by the President into negotiations and much of it came to fruition on the world map. This work takes an in-depth look at the Black Book and the lasting legacy of American negotiators at the Paris Peace Conference. Many of the successes, and failures, from these peace settlements trace directly back to this remarkable, and heretofore, almost unstudied plan.
978-0-7391-7111-0 • Hardback • March 2012 •
978-0-7391-8539-1 • Paperback • June 2013 •
978-0-7391-7112-7 • eBook • March 2012 •
Social Science / Human Geography
History / Military / World War I
Political Science / History & Theory
Political Science / International Relations / Arms Control
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is a professor of geography at the George Washington University.
Chapter 1: The Inquiry & the 1919 Paris Peace Conference
Chapter 2: “The Black Book” – A Blueprint for Peace
Chapter 3: Negotiating Borders Part 1 – A Survey of Boundaries Drawn in 1919 that Survive Today
Chapter 4: Negotiating Borders Part 2 – A Survey of Boundaries Drawn in 1919 that have Disappeared
Chapter 5: Negotiating Borders Part 3 – A Survey of Border Proposals not Adopted at the Conference
Chapter 6: Legacies of the Inquiry & the Paris Peace Conference
Chapter 7: Postscript – A World of Nation-States?
An exciting, excellently written work on a totally unknown part of Hungary’s post-World War I history, the American preparation for the Trianon Treaty. That happened almost a century ago, but it is still a living problem in Hungary.
Ivan T. Berend, Distinguished Professor of History at UCLA
It is simply amazing that the official US proposals for the new borders that were to follow the break up of the great multinational European empires in the aftermath of the First World War have never previously been systematically studied to see which ones prevailed and which ones did not. Not only does Wesley Reisser carefully document the proposals themselves and show what happened to them, he also does so with a gift for cartographic communication that is usually lacking in studies of the consequences of the Treaty of Versailles. This is a book that will revive interest among political geographers and diplomatic historians in the crucial role of negotiation in geopolitical order at a time when coercion has once more become the singular dimension of power assumed by so many geopolitical studies.
John Agnew, UCLA
Reisser’s research illuminates the central role that maps and geographers played during the peacemaking efforts in Paris nearly a century ago as the Americans imagined a new world political map. This beautifully illustrated and clearly argued volume reveals the unsettling geography of boundary creation and its on-going relevance today.
Marie Price, George Washington University
The Black Book
is an incredibly comprehensive and extremely insightful look into the re-drawing of Europe after the First World War. It is undeniable that 1919 was a turning-point in the history of European territory and national rhetoric. Reisser has done us all a great service by so clearly and accurately articulating that shift in both excellent prose and beautifully re-produced maps.
There is an old saying that ‘geography is about maps not chaps.’ This book may be the strongest argument yet that geography is about both, for this volume, richly illustrated by post-WW I maps that are the basis for so many of today's European boundaries, coupled with the monumental influence of the geographer Isaiah Bowman, makes this a compelling read. George Washington University geographer Reisser's focus is the existence, largely unknown, of the "Black Book" that guided US policy and practice in the treaties that followed war's end. One is struck by the remarkable revelations arising from this first in-depth use of the Black Book as a primary source for European boundaries and new nation-states. In addition, the attention to detail that the Black Book demands and that the author supplies is truly admirable. Two pages on the obscure and largely forgotten sub-Carpathian Ruthenians is surprising yet indicative. Reisser examines both existent and no longer existent boundaries, thus giving the full story. An absolute must read for anyone studying European political geography and history and, in particular, the birth of today's nation-state.
This is a serious and well crafted study of the redrawing of international boundaries undertaken by the victorious Allies in 1919-1924. It features excellent maps and focuses particularly on the work of The Inquiry, a grouping of American academics set up by Woodrow Wilson's unofficial diplomatic advisor.
Over half of Reisser's book is devoted to the impact of the Black Book on boundary making in Paris. . .Bowman left the AGS in 1935 to become president of Johns Hopkins. Neil Smith's American Empire (2003) describes Bowman as Roosevelt's Geographer and his advice was sought in World War II, although his influence did not match the impact of the Black Book in Paris is 1919. Reisser's fine book leaves no doubt about that.
The Geographical Review
This is a serious and well crafted study of the redrawing of international boundaries undertaken by the victorious Allies in 1919-1924. It features excellent maps and focuses particularly on the work of The Inquiry, a grouping of American academics set up by Woodrow Wilson's unofficial diplomatic advisor (Colonel) Edward House to advise the president on post-war issues of peace.
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