'Against the kind of debate that features a clash of "certainties ... about the best form of coercion to apply in any international moral impasse", international-relations scholar Chan has written a beautifully digressive plea for pluralism. The book's wide-angle viewpoint takes in André Malraux's imagining of a Chinese assassin, the Finnish construction of a national myth, contemporary African novels, Sufism and Zoroastrianism, the archangel Gabriel distracted from his "cosmic satnav" by a beautiful woman, Hans Küng's parliament of the world's religions, and the videogame Assassin's Creed, read (rightly) as a critique of Dick Cheney.'
'A long and rather splendid dinner with Stephen Chan: a ten-course tasting menu from a three-star Michelin restaurant specialising in global cultural history ... I left the restaurant with a sound appreciation of the limits of my own knowledge, and a sense of how superficial are my pretensions to cosmopolitanism. So I'll be coming back for more.'
'Fascinating and energetic ... the field of international relations is given an overdue shake-up by an author unusually conversant with a wide range of literature, as well as videogames and martial arts.'
'This is a gloriously ambitious book. No one has done anything like it. The great scholar Stephen Chan sought to write an intellectual essay which would read like a magical realist novel and succeeds. He wanted to speak about complex things with imagination, drawing upon literature, music, history, philosophy and psychoanalysis. He wanted to take us on a journey across continents so that we might challenge the political orthodoxies of our times, which insist with certainty that the values to be championed in a conflicted world are those of the West. The project has produced a book light in touch but displaying extraordinary erudition, which unveils the riches and illuminating perspectives of other cultures and which shows us that there are other ways of creating a better world. Forget Francis Fukuyama and Samuel Huntington. Stephen Chan is the public intellectual with his finger on the global pulse.'
Baroness Helena Kennedy
'Stephen Chan was advised not to write this book. The reader would be advised to read it and even to read it again. It is a novel of true philosophy, it is philosophy through a novel, it is impressive and fascinating. It is about thought, commitment and love. The point is not to agree or not with Chan but to embark with him on his journey, from certainty to compassion, and to try, with humility and dignity, to find and to give some meaning to our common humanity. This important book is like a circle crossed by woven threads, it is a window to the world as much as a mirror to the self. Profound and refreshing.'
'A strikingly original disquisition on international politics, deploying all the cultural, aesthetic, and technological resources of our age to revisit the most important questions of human co-existence. Chan has had the courage to subvert standard scholarly approaches to show that the very framework within which academics operate is itself an impediment to the leap of imagination required to meet the demands of our sublimely chaotic world. The End of Certainty is a bracing riposte to the West's intellectual, political and cultural conceit and a most salutary reminder that it is, not the end of history, but merely a link in the long human struggle to make sense of the wonders (or the nightmares) that our ingenuity may fashion. Each epoch is hollowed by the folly of its (political, religious or technological) gurus so the best we can do is to keep striving with an open mind and, Chan might say, an open heart. The End of Certainty is a tough minded but elegantly written plea for a new way of thinking politically that is rooted in our common history.'
Patrick Chabal, King's College London