Carr: The Twenty Years crisis

Edward Hallett Carr. The Twenty Years’ Crisis

Part 1 National Interest and the Universal Good (pp. 96-102)

Before you read

I. Think over the following questions

  1. What do you know about the author of the text? What is his contribution in the theory of international relations? Have you read anything by this author before? (
  2. Skim the text very quickly and say who it is intended for.
  3. What is the register of the text?

II. Do some Internet research and look up the information on the following:

  • Walewski’s maxim
  • John Bull
  • Abyssinian crisis
  • Tammany leader

*Note the pronunciation of the name of 26th American President Franclin D. Roosevelt [roʊzəvəlt]  

While you read

  1. Read the text carefully, pencil in hand and
  • find the following words in the text; try to guess their meanings using the context

expose ()

cull from (verb)

contend (verb)

belligerency (noun)

petty (adjective)

admonish (noun)

utterance (noun)

  • find Russian equivalents of the words above
  • match the words from the list with their less formal synonyms

expose                     say

cull                         show

contend                  rebuke

belligerence          unimportant

petty                      hostility

admonish              choose

utterance              hostility

  1. Read the text again and elucidate on the following notions:





After you read

I. Answer the following questions:

  1. How does the author criticise the utopian thought?
  2. What two propositions does the utopian find identical?
  3. The author quotes quite a few Anglo-Saxon writers of late 19th – early 20th ct. How do these writers justify the maintenance of British supremacy in the world?
  4. What triggered doubts as to British supremacy as one of the moral assets of mankind? Did this disillusionment linger?
  5. Give examples from the text of the American presidents identifying their action with pursuing universal good. Could you give more examples of the kind?
  6. The author claims that this tendency to identify national interests with universal right prevails among Anglo-Saxon statesmen and writers. What are the two explanations for this?
  7. Does the author support either of the above explanations? What is the real reason for British supremacy?

     II. Summarise the ideas of the chapter. Assess the text critically according to the following criteria:

  • novelty (have you learned anything new?)
  • relevance (is this information relevant? Will it be of any use in your own research paper?)
  • complexity (was it hard to grasp the main ideas of the text?)