Richard Ned Lebow


On his book Forbidden Fruit: Counterfactuals and International Relations

Cover Interview of April 06, 2010

A close-up

Good books draw in readers in their opening pages.  I hope Forbidden Fruit does the same.

In those pages I justify my choice of title.  I also explain the need for counterfactuals and offer examples of just how committed policymakers, historians and international relations scholars are to the inevitability of important events.  They are so to the point of obvious absurdity.  And they also believe, against all evidence, that big events must have big causes.

Readers must wonder why otherwise intelligent people do this and why all of us want to see the world as explicable and partly predictable.  A bit unsettled, intellectually and emotionally, the reader, I hope, will be interested in learning more about the way the world actually works and why we hold to and defend simplistic and often logically contradictory understandings about our world.