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Structuring the State:
The Formation of Italy and Germany and the Puzzle of Federalism
Daniel Ziblatt

Co-Winner of the 2007 Best Book Award, European Politics and Society Section of the American Political Science Association
Winner of the 2004 Gabriel Almond Award for Best Dissertation in Comparative Politics, American Political Science Association
Winner of the 2003 Ernst B. Haas Prize for Best Dissertation in European Politics, American Political Science Association

Paperback | 2008 | $35.00 | £27.95 | ISBN: 9780691136493
288 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 2 line illus.
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Germany's and Italy's belated national unifications continue to loom large in contemporary debates. Often regarded as Europe's paradigmatic instances of failed modernization, the two countries form the basis of many of our most prized theories of social science. Structuring the State undertakes one of the first systematic comparisons of the two cases, putting the origins of these nation-states and the nature of European political development in new light.

Daniel Ziblatt begins his analysis with a striking puzzle: Upon national unification, why was Germany formed as a federal nation-state and Italy as a unitary nation-state? He traces the diplomatic maneuverings and high political drama of national unification in nineteenth-century Germany and Italy to refute the widely accepted notion that the two states' structure stemmed exclusively from Machiavellian farsightedness on the part of militarily powerful political leaders. Instead, he demonstrates that Germany's and Italy's "founding fathers" were constrained by two very different pre-unification patterns of institutional development. In Germany, a legacy of well-developed sub-national institutions provided the key building blocks of federalism. In Italy, these institutions' absence doomed federalism. This crucial difference in the organization of local power still shapes debates about federalism in Italy and Germany today. By exposing the source of this enduring contrast, Structuring the State offers a broader theory of federalism's origins that will interest scholars and students of comparative politics, state-building, international relations, and European political history.


"Ziblatt brilliantly addresses . . . [an] institutional puzzle: Why, when Italy and Germany became nation-states, did Italy become a unitary state and Germany a federal one? Ziblatt is a careful and methodical researcher who applies to the study of historical processes a vast array of qualitative and sensible quantitative methods. . . . [A] bold and original analysis."--Stanley Hoffmann, Foreign Affairs

"A well-researched study of comparative political development from an institutional perspective. . . . The book contains useful notes and appendixes, and could be useful in history or political science courses."--Choice

"Well-researched and written, [Structuring the State] provides a highly compelling alternative to the conventional wisdom on federalism."--Louise K. Davidson-Schmich, German Studies Review

"Ziblatt has put the question of the origins of federalism on the table, suggested a provocative answer to it, creatively applied the theory of infrastructural power, and pointed the way toward many new issues to explore. This is a piece of scholarship that is sure to become the touchstone for future research on the origins of federalism, and, if we are lucky, many other scholars will follow Ziblatt's lead in investigating the relationship between infrastructural and despotic power."--Monica Prasad, American Journal of Sociology

"There are several reasons to read this book. The first one is the originality of the subject. . . . The second reason to read this book is the theoretical implications of the cases under analysis. . . . The third reason is the fact that this research can be fruitfully replicated. . . . In any case, this book and the methodology used by the author will certainly constitute an extremely useful contribution."--Marco Brunazzo, Congrips Newsletter


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