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Advice for Students

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Speaking & Contact Information


Writing an Essay

Trevor Roper's Ten Commandments on Writing

Owen Harries: A Primer for Polemicists

Recommended Writing Guides and Reference Works

Recommended Books on American Foreign Policy

International Politics: Laying a Foundation

Further Reading in International Politics


Writing an Essay

Your introduction should identify the problem to be examined and explain why it is significant and deserving of attention. A thesis statement at the end of the introduction is a good idea, but not indispensable: it is more important that the introduction establishes the subject of the essay, the significance of the topic, and problem to be investigated. There are many ways to write a good introduction: a dramatic and symbolic event, or a speech announcing a change of policy, or a direct characterization of some crisis in human affairs, are all potential routes into your subject, though the list is not meant to be exclusive. Use your imagination.

The second section should fill in historical or other background that the reader needs to make sense of the subject. The problem you're examining will have changed over time in some respects, and here is where you convey the developments that provide essential information for understanding the problem you're examining. A paper on whether NAFTA has been a success or a disaster would explain here the origins and development of that agreement, highlighting the provisions that are particularly important to friends and critics of it. Ideally, one should both tell a story and make an argument here--filling in essential details and establishing certain basic propositions that help your overall argument.

The third section should develop an interpretation or argument with respect to the problem you have identified with which you disagree. If you want to argue that China should be regarded as a friend, state the case here for why some consider it an enemy. Your next (or fourth) section will then show why the "China as an enemy" school is wrong-headed. You need to be careful in handling the contrary thesis, because you need to make clear that you're characterizing a view that is not your own and that you're subsequently going to criticize. Make sure the reader understands whose voice it is that is speaking.

The more that you can show that you have carefully considered arguments contrary to your own, the more likely you will convince the reader that your own view is the better one. It is certainly permissible to arrive at a conclusion which concedes merit to some of the contentions of the other side, but avoid a conclusion in which opposite views are held to be of equal plausibility. So, too, you can be agnostic with regard to certain questions, but don't be agnostic with regard to the main question you take up. If you find that you cannot solve the problem you have stated at the outset (or give persuasive reasons for preferring one solution or approach to another), re-think the way you have posed the question.

I. Introduction: Subject, Significance, Problem

II. Historical Development: What it was and how it changed. How we got to where we are now. Tell a story here, but also make an argument. Put differently, try to establish certain facts that support your main pitch.

III. Contrary Thesis: The interpretation of those you will subsequently criticize.

IV. Main Pitch:  The themes that throw the best light on the question.

V. Conclusion
The dialectical encounter between the Contrary Thesis and the Main Pitch need not be handled in precisely the fashion I've indicated. Your three main sections might each take notice of an opposing argument in some fashion, for example. You might not want to devote an independent section to it, but rather work it into the argument less obtrusively. Generally speaking, however, it's a good idea to give the reader a clear picture of not only what you're arguing for but also what you're arguing against.

It is natural and desirable to try to introduce an element of originality into your essay, but you need to get over the idea that if someone has already said something it's not worth saying again. Not so! Almost every interesting subject will have a literature that is complex and in which virtually all conceivable positions will have been taken at one time or another. In a deep sense true originality is impossible, but discovering which position among the variety presented is closer to the truth is nevertheless very important and a worthy aim. At the same time, the existence of controversy on a given subject gives you a nice problem to unravel and a logical opposition to make use of in structuring your paper.

While an essay should have a clear point of view and should seek to identify points of disagreement with others, it is the case that "the facts" are sometimes difficult to determine. So, too, the conflicting values at play in a controversy may all seem important, such that it is not easy to say which should be given priority. Usually political controversies do not nicely divide geniuses from idiots, or the perspicacious from the insane, or the virtuous from the depraved. So a certain modesty in approach is advisable. You can make a compelling argument while also treating your opponents fairly--trying to refute their best case.

The conclusion should recall, either implicitly or explicitly, the themes announced at the outset. Since the reader now has the benefit of your previous analysis, you can state your resolution with confidence here. It is often appropriate also to indicate briefly the elements of uncertainty in the situation that make your conclusions susceptible to change.  

As you do your research, think of the ways in which you can fit the facts and observations you discover into the scheme of your essay. Try to determine the main points on which the authors seem to agree and disagree with one another. Take good notes, looking for the short and pithy expressions that summarize some essential point.

It is usually advisable to set off your sections with Roman numerals or section titles.  This will encourage you to think about your essay in more manageable form.

There are of course many ways to organize a good and interesting essay. Another possibility is suggested below. It allows you to get more directly to your main thesis but then allows for qualifications of the argument and the examination or one or two illustrative cases.

I. Introduction: Subject, Significance, Problem

II: Main Thesis

III: Exceptions to the Argument

IV: An Illustrative Case

V: Conclusion


Yet a third potential outline is as follows:

I. Introduction

II. How We Got into this Fix

III. Deficiencies of Remedies Offered

IV. The True Remedy

V. Conclusion

After you've done some reading and reflection on your topic, try to organize your material in accordance with a couple of these outlines, and see which one helps you say more of what you want to say.

In evaluating written work, correct grammar and clean copy will be highly prized, so please proofread your work carefully before turning it in. An "A" paper should be excellent from a technical point of view, free of misspellings and punctuation errors, in addition to being well‑researched, thoughtful, and solidly structured. A "B" paper reflects above‑average effort yet may still require revisions to correct logical missteps or writing problems. A "C" paper fulfills minimal requirements but lacks insight, organization and/or development.  An "NC" grade indicates unsatisfactory work‑‑material that is ungrammatical, incoherent, or is otherwise seriously deficient. 

A Few Other Points

1. Do not forget to number your paper.

2. The spell check on Word perfect or Microsoft Word is a useful tool, but is not a substitute for careful proof reading of the paper. It is far better to make a correction in ink (thus spoiling your clean printed page) than to leave a mistake uncorrected.

3. Be sparing in your use of the first person. It is usually possible to explain why a subject is fascinating, difficult, painful, etc. without dragging yourself into it.

4. Learn the difference between "it's" and "its," "principle" and "principal," "their" and "there,"  "borders" and "boarders," "populace" and "populous."

5. Be specific in your references to places, dates, numbers.

6. When mentioning individuals for the first time, give their full name and, if applicable, their title.

7. Use the proper tense. Even when writing a paper concerned with contemporary affairs, you should try to stay in the past tense when possible.

8. When using a quote from someone else, make sure that you introduce it in grammatically correct fashion.


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Trevor Roper's Ten Commandments on Writing

The hymn and prayer sheet at the memorial service for British historian Hugh Trevor-Roper in Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, on 8 March 2003, contained the historian’s own ten commandments regarding literary style. These commandments, it was explained, were composed in 1971 but had "circulated hitherto in samizdat." The article from which the following is taken first appeared in the UK Guardian. 

1. Thou shalt know thine own argument and cleave fast to it, and shalt not digress nor deviate from it without the knowledge and consent of the reader, whom at all times thou shalt lead at a pace which he can follow and by a route which is made clear to him as he goeth.

2. Thou shalt respect the autonomy of the paragraph, as commanded by the authority and example of the prophet Edward Gibbon, for it is the essential unit in the chain of argument. Therefore thou shalt keep it pure and self-contained, each paragraph having within it a single central point to which all other observations in it shall be exactly subordinated by the proper use of the particles and inflexions given to us for this purpose.

3. Thou shalt aim always at clarity of exposition, to which all other literary aims shall be subordinated, remembering the words of the prophet commandant Black,  ‘clarté prime, longueur secondaire’. To this end thou shalt strive that no sentence be syntactically capable of any unintended meaning, and that no reader be obliged to read any sentence twice to be sure of its true meaning. To this end also thou shalt not fear to repeat thyself, if clarity require it, nor to state facts which thou thinkest as well known to others as to thyself, for it is better to remind the learned than to leave the unlearned in perplexity.

4. Thou shalt keep the structure of thy sentences clear, preferring short sentences to long and simple structures to complex, lest the reader lose his way in a labyrinth of subordinate clauses; and, in particular, thou shalt not enclose one relative clause in another, for this both betrays crudity of expression and is a fertile source of ambiguity.

5. Thou shalt preserve the unities of time and place, as commanded by the high priest Nicolas Boileau, placing thyself in imagination, in one time and one place, and distinguishing all others to which thou mayest refer by a proper use of tenses and other forms of speech devised for this purpose; for unless we exploit the distinction between past and pluperfect tenses, and between imperfect and future conditional, we cannot attain perfect limpidity of style and argument.

6. Thou shalt not despise the subjunctive mood, a useful, subtle and graceful mood, blessed by Erasmus and venerated by George Moore, though cursed and anathemised by the Holy Inquisition, Pravda, and the late Lord  Beaverbrook.

7. Thou shalt always proceed in an orderly fashion, according to the rules of right reason: as, from the general to the particular, when a generality is to be illustrated, but from the particular to the general when a generality is to be proved.

8. Thou shalt see what thou writest; and therefore thou shalt not mix thy  metaphors. For a mixed metaphor is proof that the image therein  contained has not been seen with the inner eye, and therefore such a  metaphor is not a true metaphor, created by the active eye of  imagination, but stale jargon idly drawn up from the stagnant sump of  commonplace.

9. Thou shalt also hear what thou writest with thine inner ear, so that no outer ear may be offended by jarring syllables or unmelodious rhythm;  remembering herein with piety, though not striving to imitate, the  rotundities of Sir Thomas Browne and the clausulae of Cicero.

10. Thou shalt carefully expunge from thy writing all consciously written purple passages lest they rise up to shame thee in thine old age.

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Owen Harries: A Primer for Polemicists

[This "primer," originally published in 1991 by The Libertarian Alliance in London, has some outstanding advice from the distinguished Australian editor and critic--DCH]

Irving Kristol has written that in an ideological age such as ours, the key political question is: who owns the future? Owns, that is, the prevailing notions concerning what is possible, inevitable, desirable, permissible, and unspeakable. An ideological age is also a polemical age. Hence, if one rules out the notion of a free-floating or impersonally determined Zeitgeist, the answer to Kristol's question will to a significant degree turn on the polemical presentations of the main competing ideological cases.

This being so, it is surprising how lightly and casually ideological polemics are taken in the West. Examples about: the contemptuous dismissal of the UN and its agencies as "talk shops"; the retreat from simple, resonant language to meaningless acronyms and technical jargon in making the case for the Western alliance; the belief that, even in the face of constant attack, it is more important to avoid being "provocative" and "abrasive" than it is to argue forcefully for free societies; the characterisation of ideology itself as "mere rhetoric" or "window-dressing", and the refusal to recognise it as a potent motivator of political action.

After nearly forty years of cold war (also known as "peaceful oexistence", "competitive coexistence", and "detente"), after more than two decades of assault by the Third World on Western values and institutions, and constant attacks from within the West itself by alienated groups, there is, so far as I know, no body of work that concerns itself with the techniques and tactics of political polemics. This, in an age when virtually every other area of human activity has received saturation coverage - from how to succeed in the boardroom to how to succeed in bed to how to live in perfect health until the day you die - seems a strange omission.

There are, of course, some in the West who are outstandingly good at political polemics.  But for the most part they are good by instinct rather than because they have a clear, conscious idea of what they are about.  Even those who write and speak like angels and are marvellously knowledgeable about the issues seem to give scant systematic thought to what precisely they hope to achieve and how best to achieve it.  For the beginner there seems to be no alternative to learning on the job, laboriously repeating the mistakes of others and (if he is lucky) eventually reinventing the wheel.

In the circumstances, it seems worthwhile to try to formulate a few modest precepts or rules, both to help the novice and to stimulate experienced practitioners to give the matter some thought.  Here, for what they are worth, are my suggestions. The illustrations I give naturally reflect my own, neoconservative position. But the rules themselves are general in character, and those individuals misguided enough to adhere to a different position can substitute their own examples.

Rule 1:  Forget about trying to convert your adversary.  In any serious ideological confrontation the chances of success on this score are so remote as to exclude it as a rational objective. On the very rare occasions when it does happen, it will be because the person converted has already and independently come to harbour serious doubts and is teetering on the edge of ideological defection.  This is due, more often than not, to some outrageous action by his own side or some shocking revelation: witness the effects on members of Communist parties in the West of the Nazi-Soviet pact of 1939 and the Khrushchev speech of 1956. Then, but only then, a particular argument or example may provide the catalyst to complete the process. When that happens it should be treated as the equivalent of winning a lottery - bearing in mind Lord Bryce's remark (actually made when discussing American presidential elections) that success in a lottery is no excuse for lotteries.

This rule is important for two reasons: because beginners are likely to confuse polemical exchanges with genuine intellectual debate, in which persuading is a proper and sensible goal; and because, in the oddly symbiotic relationship that often develops in a prolonged polemic, even the experienced are susceptible of becoming fascinated by their adversaries.

Rule 2: Pay great attention to the agenda of the debate. He who defines the issues, and determines their priority, is already well on the way to winning. Example A: In a debate over the cold war, so define the issues that the ideals of the Communist system are not contrasted with the reality and practice of democratic countries; otherwise the whole debate will be rigged in favour of the former. Example B: In the current debate on UNESCO, it is essential to insist that what is at issues is the actual current performance of the organisation, not the worthiness of its ostensible aims as originally set out in its constitution, or the seriousness of the plight of the world's poor.

This rule often requires a debate before the debate - with sponsors and organisers as well as with one's adversary. Diplomats, at least when they are performing effectively, understand this well, which is one reason they often appear fussy and pedantic to outsiders who have not grasped the point at issue (another reason is that they sometimes are fussy and pedantic).

It is just as important, and on the same grounds, to deny your opponent the right to impose his language and concepts on the debate, and to make sure that you always use terms that reflect your own values, traditions, and interests. Carelessness, complacency, or misplaced tolerance in response to semantic aggression - as by accepting "socialist" as a description of the totalitarian states of Eastern Europe, "detente" as a description of almost uninhibited hostility, "neo-colonialism" as a description of market relations between Western and Third World countries - can be, and has been, enormously costly in surrendering control over the terms of debate.

Rule 3: Preaching to the converted, far from being a superfluous activity, is vital.  Preachers do it every Sunday. The strengthening of the commitment, intellectual performance, and morale of those already on your side is an essential task, both in order to bind them more securely to the cause and to make them more effective exponents of it. As religious movements in earlier times and the anti-Vietnam-war and civil-rights movements in our times have shown, dedication and enthusiasm are enormous assets, more than compensating (in the initial stages) for lack of numbers.

On the negative side, one of the most embarrassing experiences in a polemical exchange is to have one's case misrepresented and mangled by one's own supporters. Correction involves delicate problems of alliance management and gives one's opponents rich opportunities to exploit apparent differences of opinion; witness the innumerable free polemical gifts which have been presented over the years to Communists and anti-anti-Communists by crude and uninformed anti-Communists.

Rule 4:  Never forget the uncommitted: almost invariably, they constitute the vast majority. This may seem obvious, but intense polemical activity is often a coterie activity, and in the excitement of combat and lust for the polemical kill the uncommitted are often overlooked. The encounter becomes an end in itself rather than a means of influencing wider opinion. Yet what works best in throwing the enemy off balance - cleverness, originality, pugnacity - is often counterproductive with those who are neutral or undecided, who are more likely to be impressed and convinced by good sense, decency, and fairness. It was said of the brilliant English politician, F. E. Smith, in explanation of his failure to get to the very top rather than of his success in getting as far as he did, that "he could as soon hold a hot coal in his moth as hold back a witticism" - a serious deficiency in a polemicist.

One should not, of course, positively strive to be dull and boring, but a modified form of Dr. Johnson's advice on self-editing, applies: whenever you think of something that strikes you as particularly brilliant, at least consider seriously the advisability of suppressing it in favour of something which projects moral and intellectual seriousness in a straightforward way.

Rule 5:  Be aware that, at least potentially, you are addressing multiple audiences. Decide whether, on a particular occasion, you want to make a broad appeal to many audiences, which will usually involve compromise and restraint in presentation, or whether you want to make a sharply focused pitch to a particular audience, even at the risk of alienating others. Either decision - or one to strike some sort of balance between the two - may be right, depending on circumstances; the important thing is to be aware of the problem and to take it into account.

This is something which most politicians understand readily. Their conclusion usually is that it is better to sacrifice impact on a limited group for breadth of appeal, which is one reason their utterances so often appear anodyne and bland to those who subject them only to intellectual tests. On the other hand, intellectuals - who tend to move in restricted circles, to regard all who are not intellectuals as unimportant, and to equate compromise with sin - are particularly bad in this respect, usually only taking seriously an audience composed of their peers.  Which is why their victories are often so Pyrrhic in character. One of the tests of great political oratory is the ability to transcend this dilemma by successfully combining breadth of appeal with a sharp impact on specially targeted

Rule 6:  Be prepared to go around the block many times. When you have a good point to make, keep repeating it. Success in ideological polemics is very much a matter of staying power and will, and the same battles have to be fought over and over again. There will always be someone who is hearing or reading you for the first time, and even most others will really register something only when they have been exposed to it several times.

Communists understand this rule very well, and may even carry it to excess. Western politicians vary in respect of it - Martin Luther King, Jr. was superb and Ronald Reagan is extremely good - but having to contend with the pressure of the mass media, which consume material at a furious rate and constantly demand something new, makes things difficult for them. Intellectuals, who put a high professional premium on novelty and originality, and have a great fear of being thought boring by their peers, hardly understand the point at all. William Phillips's well-known put-down of Kenneth Tynan - "Your questions are so old I've forgotten the answers" - typifies much in their makeup.  They should pin on their study walls a passage from Saul Bellow's novel, 'Mr Sammler's Planet':

"... it is sometimes necessary to repeat what all know. All mapmakers should place the Mississippi in the same location and avoid originality. It may be boring, but one has to know where it is. We cannot have the Mississippi flowing toward the Rockies, just for a change."

They might also put, alongside this, Wellington's remark at Waterloo:

"Hard pounding this, gentlemen; let's see who will pound longest."

An important corollary to this rule, and one which also links it with the following rule, is: do not overcomplicate your presentation. Concentrate on getting a few basic, central points over effectively.

Rule 7: Shave with Occam's razor. Knowing what you can afford to give away is one of the great arts of polemic. It is truly astonishing how often an experienced, reputable polemicist will expend time and energy defending what is irrelevant or peripheral to his case. Thus, in a debate over the American decision to withdraw from UNESCO, it is not necessary to contest the fact that the organisation does some good work, any more than it was necessary to contest that Hitler built good roads or that Mussolini made the trains run on time.  In some instances, unfortunately, polemicists just get carried away and feel that they have to deny everything that is asserted by their opponents; sometimes it is the other way around, and they feel obliged to defend a whole syndrome of beliefs associated with their own "side", regardless of the irrelevance of many of those beliefs to the matter at issue; and sometimes it is hard to escape the conclusion that they really do not properly understand their own case or the enterprise they are engaged in.

Polemical economy serves several purposes. It narrows the area you have to defend and gives you more time or space to concentrate on what is really essential to your case. The willingness to concede or ignore what is inessential will make it harder for others to characterise you as dogmatic, and is likely to make a favourable impression on the uncommitted. And it may well have a disconcerting "judo" effect on your opponent when he finds that you are prepared to concede what he had assumed you would feel obliged to defend.

Rule 8: Be very careful in your use of examples and historical analogies. More often than not, their illustrative value is outweighed by their distracting effect. People will tend to concentrate on the factual content of the particular episode referred to, the validity of your account of it, or the legitimacy of analogies in general, and to ignore the original point you were trying to make and illustrate.  Before you know it, you are off on quite another track. Thus, any references to the appeasement policies of the 1930's in the context of a discussion, say, of America's policy in Vietnam or of Soviet foreign policy is likely to bring progress to an end and precipitate a prolonged wrangle over the precise circumstances of the occupation of the Rhineland or the writings of Winston Churchill.

I am not suggesting that no use should be made of examples and analogies.  On the contrary, they are often a powerful and persuasive way of bringing a point home, particularly when the analogy links the subject at issue to the personal experience of the audience.  (Historical analogies are not the only, or necessarily the best, ones.)  In some circumstances you may even wish to precipitate the kind of side-show I have described. But you should generally be economical in the use of analogies, choose carefully, and be well armed to develop and defend the ones you choose.

Rule 9: When bolstering the authority of what you are saying by the use of quotation, give preference wherever possible to sources which are not identified with your case. If you can, quote someone who is considered unimpeachable, if not omniscient, by your opponents. This will not convince them, but it will embarrass them and impress the uncommitted. Thus, if you are concerned to establish that "peace" is not, and cannot be, a policy, and that appeals to a common interest in "peace" ignore the different content given to the word by different actors, don't quote Churchill, quote Lenin (writing in the midst of World War I):

"Absolutely everybody is in favour of peace in general, including Kitchener, Joffre, Hindenburg, and Nicholas the Bloody, for every one of them wishes to end the war."

On reflection, quote Lenin and Churchill.

Rule 10: Avoid trading in motives as an alternative to rebutting the opposing case. Or, in Sidney Hook's words, "Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they may legitimately be impugned, answer his arguments." This is good advice for several reasons. First, it is the proper thing to do and you will feel better for doing it. Second, motives are irrelevant to the soundness of an argument. Anything that is said by someone whose motives are suspect or bad could equally well (and in all probability will) be uttered by someone whose motives are impeccable, and an answer will still be required. Motives can explain error, distortion, and falsehood, but they cannot establish the existence of these things. Third, motives are in any case notoriously difficult to establish in a convincing way.

All this is not to suggest that discussion of motives has no place in polemics. But its place is not at the beginning but at the end, when the facts have been established and error exposed.  Moreover, there is much to be said for gently encouraging an audience to reach its own conclusions about motives (by asking it to consider what motives are most consistent with and best explain a given pattern of behaviour) rather than being unduly assertive and insistent.

Rule 11: Emulate the iceberg. In any polemical exchange, make sure that you know several times more about a topic than you can conceivably use or show. This is important, for one thing, for one thing, because you will not know in advance what precisely you will have to use on any given occasion: that will depend in part on the performance of your adversary. It is obviously an advantage to be able to respond immediately and effectively to a new argument and to avoid being caught off balance. In addition, and even more important, the unused depth of your position, the fact that you have much in reserve, will give a resonance and authority to what you do use. While it is difficult to say how precisely this works probably through the accumulation of small touches), it is fairly easy to tell whether someone is thinly stretched or is working well within himself.

While you should not overload your presentation with data - the average absorptive capacity is very limited - data used discriminately can be highly effective in establishing credibility, projecting authority, and forcing an opponent on the defensive. An example comes to mind. In a teach-in I attended in Australia during the Vietnam war, great play was made of the fact that, according to evidence presented by the American government itself, there were fewer than 40,000 North Vietnamese in the South. Someone finally had the wit to point out that while this number might not be enormous (a) most if not all of those involved were party cadres, and (b) at the the beginning of 1917 the membership of the Bolshevik party in Russia was under 25,000. Subsequently, no more was heard along these lines.

Rule 12: Know your enemy. Always bear in mind John Stuart Mill's observation that he who knows only his own position knows little of that. Take particular care to understand the position of your adversary - and to understand it not in a caricature or superficial form but at its strongest, for until you have rebutted it at its strongest you have not rebutted it at all. This is a necessary condition both for developing your own position fully and attacking his successfully. It is no accident that many of the most effective anti-Communists have been people who at one stage of their lives have been either in or very close to a Communist party - which is the hard way of gaining an understanding of your adversary.

Knowing your enemy will enable you to anticipate likely lines of attack and to consider now they may be best dealt with. It will also enable you to criticise the opposing position from within as well as from without - in its own terms as well as in yours. The use of the classic Jesuit tactic of accepting your opponent's premises and turning them against him is both highly effective and particularly enjoyable.

That makes a round dozen rules or precepts. Collectively they will certainly help to lift the level of a polemical performance. But a thirteenth might be added in conclusion, and "for luck." Before employing these or any other debating stratagems, make sure that the position you decide to defend is intellectually, morally, and politically worthy of your efforts. Being on the side of the good and the true does not guarantee success, but, other things being equal, it certainly helps.

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Recommended Writing Guides and Reference Works

Bartleby's has an outstanding array of reference works available on-line, including the following:

The Elements of Style, by William Strunk

The American Heritage® Book of English Usage

The Columbia Encyclopedia

Encyclopedia of World History

The American Heritage Dictionary

Two other excellent sources are The Hammond Concise Atlas of World History and Diana Hacker, A Pocket Style Manual.


Recommended Books on American Foreign Policy

Laying a Foundation:

George F. Kennan, Memoirs, 1925-1950

Ronald Steel, Walter Lippmann and the American Century

David Mayers, Wars and Peace

Walter McDougall, Promised Land, Crusader State

Michael Lind, The Next American Nation

Frank Ninkovich, The Wilsonian Century


Recent Books


Clyde Prestowitz, Rogue Nation (2002)

Anatol Lieven, America Right or Wrong (2004)

Andrew Bacevich, The New American Militarism (2004)

Samuel P. Huntington, Who Are We? (2004)

Claes Ryn, America the Virtuous (2003)

Robert Kagan, Of Paradise and Power (2003)

Niall Ferguson, Colossus (2004)

Benjamin Barber, Fear's Empire (2002)

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International Politics: Laying a Foundation

Martin Wight, International Theory: The Three Traditions and Power Politics

Robert Jackson, The Global Covenant: Human Conduct in a World of States (2000)

Jonathan Haslam, No Virtue Like Necessity: Realist Thought in International Relations since Machiavelli

Michael Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars

Arnold Wolfers and Laurence Martin, eds., The Anglo-American Tradition in Foreign Affairs

Thomas Pangle and Peter Ahrensdorf, Justice Among Nations

Daniel Deudney, Bounding Power: Republican Security Theory from the Polis to the Global Village (forthcoming)

Bernard Brodie, War and Politics

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Further Reading in International Relations


The Nature of the Contemporary Problem: Order & Chaos

Benjamin Barber, Jihad vs. McWorld (1995)
Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire (2000)
Robert Wright, Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny (2000)
Thomas Friedman, The Lexus and the Olive Tree (2000).
Jessica Mathews, "Power Shift," Foreign Affairs (Jan./ Feb. 1997), 50‑66.
James M. Goldgeier and Michael McFaul, "A Tale of Two Worlds: Core and Periphery in the Post‑Cold War Era," International Organization 46, no. 2 (Spring 1992).
Richard N. Haass, The Reluctant Sheriff: The United States After the Cold War (1997), pp. 21-48
Michael Doyle, "An International Liberal Community," G. Allison and G. Treverton, Rethinking America's Security (1992)
Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order

The Study of International Relations


Robert Jackson & Georg Sørensen, Introduction to International Relations
Robert J Lieber, No Common Power: Understanding International Relations
"Frontiers of Knowledge: The State of the Art in World Affairs," Foreign Policy, Spring 1998
Peter Katzenstein et al., "International Organization at Fifty: Exploration and Contestation in the Study of World Politics," 52 (1998)
Jackson, Global Covenant, chaps. 2-4
Klaus Knorr and James Rosenau, Contending Approaches to International Politics             (1969)
Michael Lessnoff, The Structure of Social Science: A Philosophical Introduction (1974)
Bent Flyvbjerg, Making Social Science Matter (2001)

International Relations in 20th Century

William Keylor, The Twentieth Century World: An International History (2000)
Peter Calvacoressi, World Politics Since 1945
Paul Johnson, Modern Times
J.A.S. Grenville, A History of the World in the Twentieth Century (2000)
John Lewis Gaddis, Now We Know: Rethinking Cold War History (1998)
Ronald Steel, Walter Lippmann and the American Century (1981)
Henry Kissinger, Diplomacy

The Theory of International Relations

Hedley Bull, The Anarchical Society (1977)
Martin Wight, International Theory: The Three Traditions (1992)
Daniel H. Deudney, "Regrounding Realism: Anarchy, Security, and Changing Material Contexts," Security Studies (2000)
Michael Doyle, Ways of War and Peace (1987)
Hans J. Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations (1948 and later editions)
Raymond Aron, Peace and War (1967)
Martin van Creveld, The Rise and Decline of the State (1999)
Ken Booth and Steve Smith, eds., International Relations Theory Today (1995)
Michael Doyle and G. John Ikenberry, New Thinking in International Relations Theory (1997)
Chris Brown, Terry Nardin, and Nicholas Rengger, International Relations in Political Thought: Texts From the Ancient Greeks to the First World War (2002)

The Constitutional Tradition in Diplomacy

Arnold Wolfers and Laurence Martin, eds., The Anglo American Tradition in Foreign Affairs
Daniel Deudney, "The Philadelphian System: Sovereignty, Arms Control and Balance of Power in the American States-Union," International Organization (1995), 191-228
John Gerard Ruggie, Winning the Peace: America and World Order in the New Era (1996)
Martin Wight, "Western Values in International Relations," Wight and Butterfield, eds., Diplomatic Investigations (1966)
John Ikenberry, "Institutions, Strategic Restraint, and the Persistence of American Postwar Order," International Security, winter 1998/99, 43‑78; After Victory (2001)
David C. Hendrickson, Peace Pact: The Lost World of the American Founding (2003)
Murray Forsyth, Unions of States (1981)

The Causes of War

Kenneth Waltz, Man, the State, and War
Geoffrey Blainey, The Causes of War
Michael Howard, The Invention of Peace: Reflections on War and International Order
Robert Rotberg and Theodore Rabb, eds.,  The Origin and Prevention of Major Wars (1989)

War and Strategy

Michael Howard, War in European History
Bernard Brodie, War and Politics (1973)
Paul Kennedy, ed., Grand Strategies in War and Peace (1991)
Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers (1987)
Peter Paret, et al., Makers of Modern Strategy from Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age (1986)
Michael Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars (1977; rev., 1991)
David Hendrickson, "In Defense of Realism: A Commentary on Just and Unjust Wars" Ethics and International Affairs (1997); idem, The Future of American Strategy (1987)
John Baylis, James Wirtz, Eliot Cohen, and Colin S. Gray, Strategy in the Contemporary World: An Introduction to Strategic Studies

International Political Economy

Robert Gilpin, with Jean Gilpin, Global Political Economy: Understanding the International Economic Order (2001); The Challenge of Global Capitalism (1999) The Political Economy of International Relations (1981)
Susan Strange, States and Markets
John Gray, False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism (1998)
Klaus Knorr, The Power of Nations: The Political Economy of International Relations (1975);
Mancur Olson, The Rise and Decline of Nations: Economic Growth, Stagflation, and Social Rigidities (1982)
Herman M. Schwartz, States Versus Markets: History, Geography, and the Development of the International Political Economy (1994);
Joan Spero, The Politics of International Economic Relations (1996);
Peter Odell, Oil and World Power
Paul Roberts, The End of Oil (2004)
Daniel Yergin and Joseph Stanislaw, The Commanding Heights: The Battle Between Government and the Marketplace that is Remaking the Modern World (1998); idem, The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power (1992)
Jeffrey Sachs, The Challenge of Economic Development (speech to IMF and World Bank, 2000)


International Institutions

Inis Claude, Swords into Plowshares: The Problems and Progress of International Organization (1984);
Paul F. Diehl, The Politics of Global Governance: International Organizations in an Interdependent World (2001);
A. Leroy Bennett & James Oliver, International Organizations: Principles and Issues (2001);
Lisa Martin and Beth Simmons, eds., International Institutions: An International Organization Reader (2001)

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