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Ambassadors of Realpolitik: Sweden, the CSCE and the Cold War

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Volume 20

Contemporary European History

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Ambassadors of Realpolitik

Sweden, the CSCE and the Cold War

Aryo Makko

300 pages, 4 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-284-5 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (November 2016)

ISBN  978-1-78920-517-6 $34.95/£27.95 / Pb / Published (December 2019)

eISBN 978-1-78533-285-2 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit  Buy the eBook! $34.95info on epub formatRequest a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“Succinctly and vigorously written and extensively annotated, this book represents a substantial contribution to the new international history. – Highly Recommended.” • Choice

“This book should prove valuable to more traditional historians as an example of how a theoretical approach need not sacrifice archival research and empirical data and can lead to new perspectives that may otherwise be left unexamined. But it is not just this integrationist approach which makes the book valuable…Makko has done a good job in filling the gaps which have existed in European historiography for so long. This book is an excellent addition to the existing scholarship on both the CSCE and Swedish foreign policy and will surely prove influential on future research.” • History

“The author succeeded in producing an original contribution to the foreign-policy culture of a country that has tried, since the 1960s and with great efforts, to gain a cosmopolitical-internationalist image… Makko’s book convinces on the basis of his sharply focused descriptions of internal discussions and decisions of the small circle of Swedish diplomats and politicians who were dealing with the CSCE (Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe) in the conference room. That is the main gain of his study that reaches well beyond the previous research on Sweden’s CSCE policy.” • Sehepunkte

“Makko’s book is the product of impressive research in Austrian, German, Swiss, and British as well as Swedish archives, and it offers a welcome corrective to the accepted image of Sweden’s international profile.” • American Historical Review

"Ambassadors of Realpolitik is a solid and well-argued book. The theses of the author are supported by a wide range of archival material. Also, the author’s interpretative analysis is convincing….[It] is a recommendable book that answers the need for more complex historical narratives in the field of international history. I would especially recommend it to scholars interested in Swedish international history, in the making of the CSEC, and also to scholars interested in Cold War history, especially in the period of détente.” European Review of History

“This is a solid empirical work in the classical tradition of diplomatic history, founded on archival studies in five countries (Austria, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK)…To discuss Swedish foreign policy in the context of European Realpolitik was sensitive to contemporaries, and it has remained so among historians. Makko’s book, however, is a welcome attempt to change that.” • Journal of Contemporary History

Ambassadors of Realpolitik is an equally ambitious and insightful work that adds a hitherto neglected component to the well researched history of the Cold War.” • H-Soz-Kult

“This book is the first to go behind the scenes for a full and detailed account of Sweden’s paradoxical foreign policy in the era of the CSCE. A brilliant and original analysis drawing on valuable new archival material.” • Richard Davy, St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford


During the Cold War, Sweden actively cultivated a reputation as the “conscience of the world,” working to build bridges between East and West and embracing a nominal commitment to international solidarity. This groundbreaking study explores the tension between realism and idealism in Swedish diplomacy during a key episode in Cold War history: the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, culminating in the 1975 Helsinki Accords. Through careful analysis of new evidence, it offers a compelling counternarrative of this period, showing that Sweden strategically ignored human rights violations in Eastern Europe and the nonaligned states in its pursuit of national interests.

Aryo Makko is Associate Professor of History at Stockholm University and has been a visiting fellow at the Graduate Institute in Geneva, the University of Oxford and Harvard University. He was selected as a Pro Futura Scientia fellow by the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study (SCAS) in 2016. His work has appeared in the Journal of Cold War Studies and Diplomacy & Statecraft, among others.

Subject: History: 20th Century to Present
Area: Northern Europe


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